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Question by The Moody Blues

Album: Question Of BalanceReleased: 1970Charted:
21
2
  • Moody Blues guitarist/vocalist Justin Hayward wrote this song, which reflected the thoughts of many young people who were questioning the war in Vietnam. He told us: "We'd achieved great success in the United States and we were playing a lot of student venues and colleges, and the student audience was our audience. We were mixing with these people and seeing how different the problems were for them and the issues in being a member of the greatest nation on earth: the United States. How different they were from British people. I was just expressing my frustration around that, around the problems of anti-war and things that really concerned them, and for their own future that they may be conscripted. How that would morally be a dilemma for them and that kind of stuff. So it did really come out of that. And my own particular anger at what was happening. After a decade of peace and love, it still seemed we hadn't made a difference in 1970. I suppose that was the theme of the song. And then the slow part of the song is really a reflection of that and not feeling defeated, but almost a quiet reflection of it, and mixing with a bit of a love song, as well." (Here's the full Justin Hayward interview.)
  • This was the opening track on the Question Of Balance album, and was going to be the title track. It was recorded several months earlier than the other tracks on the album and its title was shortened from "Question Of Balance" to "Question."
  • in the liner notes of the 1997 remastered CD, Justin Hayward wrote: "Sometime before we taped the album, we (documented) 'Question,' which was a song that I didn't have on Friday night for a session (the next day). But, by the morning, I had it and it was recorded very quickly." Hayward adds that it was "Recorded live, with no overdubbing or double-tracking, just a bit of echo."
  • In the UK, this became the group's biggest hit for their classic lineup. Before John Lodge and Justin Hayward joined the group in 1966, they had a #1 UK hit with "Go Now."
  • The song is a concert mainstay of The Moody Blues, which is fine with Justin Hayward, who tells us he never loses the emotion for it when he performs the tune. It's also a song that has remained relevant. Says Hayward: "There's no doubt that it still resonates, the lyrics reflect whichever generation you're in. Whatever time you're in, people are experiencing those emotions. And I find that people identify with it at any age."
  • Fish, who is the ex-lead singer of the UK rock group Marillion, recorded a cover version on his 1995 LP Songs From The Mirror.
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Comments: 32

On April 26th 1970, "Question" by the Moody Blues entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #94; and on June 7th it peaked at #21 (for 4 weeks) and spent 12 weeks on the Top 100...
And on June 13th, 1970 it reached #1 (for 1 week) on the Dutch Top 40 chart...
Between 1964 and 1988 the group had twenty-two Top 100 hits; with three making the Top 10 and "Nights In White Satin" was their biggest hit, it peaked at #2 (for 2 weeks) on October 29th, 1972...
The two weeks that "Nights In White Satin" was at #2, the #1 record for both those weeks was "I Can See Clearly Now" by Johnny Nash.
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
This song is sampled by Goodie Mob on their song "Power".Daniel - Redding, Ct
Wow!! ~ really I'm on 29 yrs. old , I've listened to The Moody Blues since a young age. My mother, aunt and grandmother loved them so over the years. Funny, have you ever sang the words to a song but never really listen to what it's saying?? ~ I now understand, because I listened! They are speaking of God in most of their music. ~ listen to Story in Your Eyes, speaks about his 2nd coming. ~ Dear Diary, "they don't notice there's people like me", "they don't know what there playing, no way of knowing what the game is." ~ really people it's not hard, listen.Davina - Phenix City, Al
Everyone in the band contributed on this MASTERPIECE; kinda kike Tuesday Afternoon...Joe - Grants Pass, Or
Am I alone in the thought that this song could also represent one's love being taken for granted ('....and when you stop and think about it, you won't believe it's true/that all the love you've been giving has all been meant for you...')?Peter - Poway, Ca
Mr.Ed when it came out in 1970, would have, but was a bit young, but some years later, I got the same record. Original; label, Threshold Record [Deram/British London], 4:55 timing, different mix, AND YES, same song as the one you've had since its chart run--"Candle of Life".Glad to see Gigi agrees with me on my previous posting this being two seperate songs.Steve - Whittier, Ca
I bought the 45 when it came out and the B-side had "Candle of Life" from "To Our Children's Children's Children", which turned me on to that great album as well.Mr. Ed - Los Angeles, Ca
Thanks to the others here for the insight! Learning that this was two songs combined helps me appreciate the song even more. What is so amazing about the song: its juxtaposition of two emotions (agitation and humility?) emerge as one: frustration that I think we all feel daily. Frustration about the impact of actions/decisions made by others on our lives, and frustration about the need for aour own ations/decisions in our lives. I agree with what Dennis below wrote. The song humanizes talented and perhaps legendary musicians for the rest of us when their emotions are bared in songs. Not an every day song, but one of the best.Donna - Maryland, Md
This was really two separate songs combined to make Question. the first part you can tell had to do with everyone in the usa questioning the war in vietnam and the second the quentessential meanining of love and to finding the balance of love in our lives. between the silence of the mountains and the crashing of the sea there lies a land i once lived in and she's waiting there for me. I'm looking for someone to change my life I'm looking for a miracle in my life. ahhhhhh how beautiful is that!!!!!! romantic sigh!!!!Gigi - St. Louis, Mo
That middle section "It's not the way.." IMHO the most memorable part sounds tacked a la "Layla". BTW I did a weird edit down take on this on Windows Movie Maker under AMERICAN CHEERLEADER cover images. [Now how's that for a good use for a current teen girls magazine, merge it with a Moody Blues 1970s song! And that is what I did.]Steve - Whittier, Ca
The actual instrument that was used on this song that gave that amazing sound was Mike Pinder on the Mellotron not the Moog Synthesizer as some may believe. Some may think the two different parts of the song are incongruous but really they are not incongruous. Given that our quest and desire in life is to understand the motives of why people do the things they do both corporately or individually - the Question remains...Why do you do that????? Why do you go to war, why do you cause death, why do you personally treat me this way? All are The Question...how people can do these harmful things to one another.Elaine Medina - Loveland, Co
All the songs were remixed to some degree on This Is... This particular tune displays (as did many of their songs) fantastic usage of the then fairly new Moog synthesizer. It made its way into many of their biggest hits. The Moodies were just privy to mix it in there and use it as an INSTRUMENT and NOT an effect. Synth-haters often rip on bands that use them but don't really realize that synthesizers were used in hundreds of hit songs of the '60s, '70s and '80s, and beyond. The Moodies made a believer out of me!Jesse - Madison, Wi
I believe the single version can be found on the 1974 double album compilation "This Is the Moody Blues" (but I can only speak for the vinyl, never heard it on CD). Also, there's an alternate version on the 2006 SACD release of "A Question of Balance" which sounds a lot like the single version, but it goes back into the quiet part again, and then ends haphazardly.Steve - Coralville, Ia
The song was released as a single a few months before the album came out. The single mix was a little different from the album mix. Apparently, the feeling was that the mix on the album was the "final product", and so radio stations stopped playing the original single mix. That's why the version you hear now is different from that on the 45. Frankly, I remember liking the single version better.Danny - Bronx, Ny
Crystal is correct. Justin also said more or less the same thing in Guitar Player magazine. To be specific, the key is not only "C", but the guitar is tuned in "Open C". From low to high that's CGCGCE. The G and high E strings are untouched. The B is tuned up to C. The three lower strings are tuned down to CGC. The chords are straightforward and easy in this tuning. The strumming takes some practice.Donald - Louisville, Ky
Does anybody know why there are two different versions? One has a double echo towards the end of the song on the big brass section. It wasn't on the original 45 released in the 70's, but I constantly hear this different 'echo' version on the radio. It's almost like somebody at the record company decided to add it in or something years later to put more energy into the song. (failed miserably and totally destroyed the best part of the song)Schmange - Sheffield, United Kingdom
May I offer a different opinion as to the meaning of the verses that open and close this Moodies masterpiece? At the great risk of sounding like I'm proselytizing (which, I promise, I never do) it sounds to me like someone trying to explain why God (and man) never seem to answer all the questions of youth. I refer to the lines "Why do we never get an answer" and "with a thousand million questions about hate and death and war?" The line goes on to state that there is really nothing in life that (most) of us really need; rather most "needs" are merely wants. It goes on to mention a world burning in greed, which explains why many in this world do not have their true needs met. At least that's my opinion.Michael - Kissimmee, Fl
Going over the lyrics, I have to wonder: Is this song about mourning for someone who has died?John - Manchester, Nh
Justin and John and Graeme's version of the moodies still goes strong! they are great live!Janice - Nyc, United States
Hey, I'm trying to put a few Moody Blues CD cover pictures on my screen saver @ work. I'm very incompetent when it comes to working with computer usage. Please email me if you know what to do; fergusonjo@palmbeach.k12.fl.us

Thanks
Jay - Boca Raton, Fl
To Stefanie of Rock Hill, SC: Your comment is very interesting. I have always had the feeling that "Question" was two seperate songs. The "first" song consists of the first stanza and that excellent guitar work that opens the track. It's clearly about war, and, as Justin Hayward said, the questions people had about it. As such, it's one of the Moodies' edgier segments. But the "second" song seems to question a particular love relationship. The music becomes more expansive--rather winsome yet melancholy. But I'm not sure the two "songs" add up to a coherent piece. Also, this piece shares what, to me, is the Moody Blues' more exasperating qualities: The music has a kind of artistic/intellectual quality to it, sort of like what poet Arthur Rimbaud called "le derangement des senses." This practically begs for mind-expanding lyrics that leave the listener in a different state of mind from the one he or she brought to the song. The lyrics don't have to make linear sense: In fact, with this type of music, they shouldn't. But the two "songs" just don't add up to something complete, or at least whole. At least this song is, if not successful, at least interesting.Musicmama - New York, Ny
Hayward states many places including Legend Of A Band that he was working on two songs that ended up fitting together. He mentioned as well that the lyrics in part were to do with the Vietnam war and the view of it by the American populas.

The band's name by the way according to Graeme Edge was originally the M and B 5 after Mitchell and Butler's brewery. But when the brewery didn't want to sponser them and they were finding success, they dropped the 5 and he suggested Moody Blues in keeping with th initals.
Blue - Prunedale, Ca
I'm 15 and I really like this song and this album. So far I have listened to this album, days of future passed and to our children's children's children. I'm planning on listening to "Every good boy deserves flavour." Those are the albums my parents have. Man if I had a band I could only wish to write a song like this. With the great harmonies and meaning...Johnny - Los Angeles, Ca
By the mid-1990s, when the Moody Blues issued a definitive 'best of' collection, Justin Hayward could regularly be heard in interviews desribing this song as a 'morning after the sixties anthem'. Perhaps as well as being a statement about the Vietnam war, perhaps the theme is also looking back, questioning what happened to the age of affluence that preceded the era in which the song was recorded?Dave - Cardiff, Wales
When I was a kid this was one of my absolute favorite songs but I couldn't afford to buy records. When it came on the radio (not very often after the summer when it was a hit) I would go crazy. I remember once running to get my sister so she could listen to it with me. Later when I actually was old enough to make a little money my highest priorities were guitar strings and Moody Blues records. This song stays in my heart as one of the best ever by anyone. Some might be tempted to dis it for really just being a hodge-podge of two completely different songs, but I think that works because the two different songs so clearly show two facets of the same person, and are both sincere. I mean really, who goes through a whole day thinking about only one thing?Dennis - Anchorage, Ak
Yeah, when I was in High School in the late 70's and early 80's(I graduated in 82) the 60's were retro so everyone was diggin up all these old 60's groups and one I discovered was The Moody Blues! I like their stuff!! GREAT harmonies in their songs too! Lots of "Awwwwww-Awwwwww-Awwwww-Awwwwww-Awwwwww-Awwwwwww-Awwwwww-Awwwww-Awwwwwww-Awwwww-- Ahhhhh--Ahhh-Ah Boo doo do doo doo doo doo doo do doo doo do doo doo doo doo doo doo..."(the boo doo's are the baseline:-) in "Question"Quintin - Norwalk, Ct
Thanks Crystal that's what I thought.Stefanie Magura - Rock Hill, Sc
Question did start out as two separate songs, both in the key of "C". One very fast and up tempo and the other soft and slow. After not being able to complete either song, Justin Hayward merged the two songs into one for the album
I have attended about 25 Moody Blues concerts and this is the story Justin told himself on stage at one of the concerts.
Crystal - Proctorville, Oh
I think this song is about Two different things. One is the Vietnam war, the other is the question to go back to the one that he used to love and wether or not going back to her will be the right thing to do. It could either be the best thing he ever did or it could just end up a dissaster. But thats just what I get from the song.Kyle - St.lois, Mo
I always loved the Moody Blues. And their name. Now that's a cool band-name. I got turned onto their sound actually by my Dad. (Yes, I did have a life - just have a cool dad.) He had the Seventh Sojourn album and played it for me just after I had gotten really interested in the Beatles at around age 12, 13. This is one of the best and sincere progressive bands of all time. No pomp and pretense here. Early on they were quite an all-out r&b band too, typified by 1965's "Go Now."Brian - Meriden, Ct
I heard that "Question" was actually two songs that werw put together to form one song.Stefanie Magura - Rock Hill, Sc
With the album A Question of Balance the band concentrated on songs that, unlike those on recent albums, were not too difficult to reproduce on tour.Charles - Charlotte, Nc