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© Lynn Goldsmith/Corbis
“I was playing this on acoustic guitar the other day. ‘Khatru’ means ‘as you wish’ in Yemeni. When we were working on it, I kept singing the word over and over again, even though I had no idea what it meant. I asked somebody to look it up for me, and when they told me the meaning, it worked for the song.
“I had already written most of it, but I needed help with some of the sections. I started playing it on guitar for the band, and then I realized that it needed a strong riff. Steve really helped out with some of the parts and, of course, the riff. The song could work with the riff and the vocals alone.
[Sings] “’Even Siberia goes through the motions… ‘” The idea is that Siberia is so far away. The Iron Curtain still existed, and Siberia was like this no man’s land. Russia is such a huge country, and the thought was that life still happens there as it does here.
“The verses have a different rhythmic feel. We had a lots influences and elements going on. Before Yes, I was in a band in the ‘60s, and we did all the R&B songs that were on the charts. I loved singing those songs, but I didn’t want to write about the same things subject-wise. ‘My babe don’t love me no more, what am I gonna do?’ – why should I compete with people who were writing those songs so damn well?
“Steve’s guitar playing is brilliant. I’ve always been amazed at his incredible talent. Even on the last tour I did with him, I’d come off stage and say to him, ‘How do you do that?’ But the great thing about his playing here is that he’s always aware of the structure. He’s not just playing to play.
“The song builds and builds and builds and builds – you’re taking the audience on an epic adventure. People think it can’t get bigger, but it does. The vocalization I was doing – ‘Bluetail, tailfly, Luther, in time, suntower, asking, cover, lover’ – it builds and builds, too, and then it goes into the solo, and everybody goes crazy. A very cool song.”