Activate

Album: 1000 Hands (2020)

Songfacts®:

  • Jon Anderson left Yes in 1988 and two years later started working on a solo album he called Uzlot. "Activate," one of the songs on that project, features Yes drummer Alan White and bass player Chris Squire. Anderson re-joined the band that year and didn't finish the album, but in 2019 the producer Michael T. Franklin convinced him to complete it with the help of some famous friends. For "Activate," they got Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull to add flute; Jon recorded new backing vocals to augment his original tracks, and the song was finally completed 30 years after it was conceived. The album was issued in 2020 with the title 1000 Hands to reflect the many contributors who helped get it to the finish line.
  • The lyric was inspired by the political messaging Anderson saw in the Los Angeles area back in 1990, when a big election took place. There were a number of propositions on the ballot, and signs everywhere advocating how to vote on them. He worked this into lyrics like:

    So the answer to the proposition
    35-42
    It is deemed to realize everything begins and ends with you
  • The song isn't just about ballot measures. "It's more refined ideas about self-realization that we've grown up with over the years," Jon Anderson said in a Songfacts interview. "Especially in the '60s and '70s, there was a self-realization code being presented to the human experience throughout music, famously 'all you need is love,' which was originally thought up by Krishna, and then The Beatles made a great song about it. But everybody needs love, so the song itself is all about self-realization, waking up and activating. Whoever's in charge of the electricity that keeps us going, can you plug it in a bit deeper and tweak it up?"

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