80’s Mania Mondays: Give Your Free Will A Chance

I’m giving this one away early, because I’ve got to ask: Jon Anderson’s shoes and dance moves in this video—what the heck? To be fair, Anderson and his band were not known as dance favorites, so hearing them come up with something like this was at the time like a bolt from the blue.

No fancy introduction today: “Owner Of A Lonely Heart” is today’s 80’s Mania Mondays song.

Prior to the release of this song and the album it came from (90125), Yes were a progressive-rock band of high acclaim. From 1968 when the group was formed through 1980, the band was one of the great rock bands of the era. By 1981 though, Yes had broken up. Reformed in 1983 with a couple new members and new producers, their biggest hit was created with synthesizers and samplers, not with the rock sound that defined their earlier era.

The video that I made fun of earlier re-introduced Yes, or more accurately, introduced Yes to a new generation of fans, those who knew little or nothing of their progressive rock past. With those samples and synths, along with some guitar and that hit chorus, the song made it all the way to #1 in 1984. Credit goes to Trevor Rabin, who created the song, then received contributions from Yes members Anderson, Chris Squire and Alan White. Producer Trevor Horn also claims some credit, particularly for bringing in the sampler and for adding the synthesized effects heard throughout.

For me, I still like the song a lot; in fact the local radio station has played it a few times in the last couple weeks. I certainly could be counted as one of those fans back in 1984 who had no idea who Yes was or what they did prior to this song. The recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees never got as close to the pop summit ever again, even as they had hits in the new style. Today, there are apparently two versions of Yes, both using the name; one with original member White, and a second called Yes featuring Anderson, Rabin and Rick Wakeman.

If you have any memories of this chart-topping hit, leave them in the comments. As always, thanks for reading and listening.

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