Among the wealth of great video clips available at yesmuseum.org, I found a GIANT .mov file of Yes performing Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘America’ live in the studio in 1972. The file is around 33 Mb, and appears to have been transferred from a very old video tape, but it’s worth every second you spend downloading it, because Rick Wakeman was the happiest guy EVER when this performance was recorded. It’s really pretty amazing. His happiness was of such magnitude that he couldn’t express it with a mere goofy smile – he had to release it in little spasms of joy whenever he wasn’t playing. It’s kind of like the girl in the trailer to that movie, ‘Love Actually,’ who steps away from her date whom she just kissed to do a little dance in the stairwell, but Yes is Rick Wakeman’s date, and he’s so happy he’s not hiding his little dance. So, so great.
I just stopped to think about why I find Mr. Wakeman’s happiness to be so great, and I think it all boils down to the reason he’s so happy. He’s freaking out because his band rules, and he can hardly believe how much they rule. He’s a spastic, stringy haired guy with a giant smile and ridiculous keyboard abilities – and his brain simply can’t process the fact that he ended up with a band who was covering the shit out of ‘America’ at that particular moment. And instead of being all cocky about how great they are – he’s just so HAPPY. Almost to the point of disbelief. I LOVE that.