South Side of the Sky (9:32)

Cover of Fragile

From Fragile and 12 other releases

“South Side of the Sky” is a song by progressive rock band Yes from their album Fragile. It is one of the relatively few group performances on the album.

It opens with the sound of a howling wind. It then bursts into a heavy, riff-dominated rock song. At around 2:08, Rick Wakeman’s piano comes in along with another few seconds of wind. The piano is gentler than the rest of the song, and even somewhat classical, but with a similar melody to it. At around 3:19, Chris Squire and Jon Anderson start singing wordless vocal harmonies along with the piano. This continues until about 5:42, when the earlier heavy riff part returns, with the wind in the background. The song fades out in the end to the same howling wind that occurred throughout.

Rick Wakeman contributed to the writing of “South Side of the Sky” (and fellow album piece “Heart of the Sunrise”) by adding piano interludes to both songs, but wasn’t credited due to contractual conflicts. He was instead promised more money by Atlantic studio executives, which he claims he never saw.

In the liner notes of the remastered edition of Fragile, it is said that this song is about a tragic polar expedition that ends in death, as evidenced by lyrics such as “A river, a mountain to be crossed/ the sunshine, in mountains sometimes lost/ around the south side, so cold that we cried” and “The moments, seem lost in all the noise/ a snow storm, a stimulating voice”.

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