Heart of the Sunrise

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"Heart of the Sunrise"
Song by Yes
from the album Fragile
Released26 November 1971
RecordedSeptember 1971
GenreProgressive rock[1], hard rock
  • 10:37 (original version)
  • 11:27 (Fragile version)

"Heart of the Sunrise" is a progressive rock song by British band Yes. It is the closing track on their fourth album, 1971's Fragile. The compositional credits go to Jon Anderson, Bill Bruford, and Chris Squire, though keyboardist Rick Wakeman contributed some uncredited sections.

The song eventually rose to become the band's fourth most-played song,[2] and appears on Yessongs, Classic Yes, In a Word: Yes (1969–), and many other studio and live retrospectives.


According to Anderson, the song is about being lost in the city.[2] This was explained on many tours. In the Big Generator (1987) tour, Anderson said that the song is about the power and energy of the sunrise.[2] In 1978, however, he had said that the song was about the power of love. Sometimes, he made other comments regarding its meaning. For example, in the 16 October 1971 show, Anderson stated that the organ in the song is inaudible and that the song will be performed without it. He further noted that the organ is "one of the best jokes in the business."[2]

Content and structure[edit]

The song begins with a churning, bass-heavy riff that alternates between 6
and 3
time. After one full sequence, it merges into a new, slightly funky section in 4
that lasts for a minute and a half. It afterwards breaks back into three full cycles of the main riff.

At around 3:25, after the final cycle, the song switches to a much softer style, where Jon Anderson begins singing. This section starts in 6
but includes many individual sequences, including a quirky 5
riff that appears in various speeds and arrangements. The song gradually builds in intensity, eventually including the main riff interspersed with the other sections. A brief 9
classical snippet of Rick Wakeman's is used as well in both classical and rock arrangements.

The song itself ends very abruptly around 10:35, but a reprise of "We Have Heaven" from earlier on the album is included as a hidden track, extending it to 11:27 (11:32 on the 2003 release). Some vinyl pressings of the album, as well as most pre-recorded tape editions, end without this reprise. At either length, it is the longest song on the album. Original North American pressings of Fragile contain the reprise, but list "Heart of the Sunrise"'s timing as 10:34, not reflecting its inclusion.

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

Live versions[edit]

A number of live versions were released:

When performed live, the song was mostly performed the same as the studio version, accounting for obvious differences in instrumentation. Of course, the introductions changed as well. In the early part of the Big Generator tour, the main riff was worked into an instrumental version of "Almost Like Love", which led off the show.

Progressive metal band Dream Theater paid tribute to Yes with a live cover of this song, which is included on their Uncovered 2003-2005 official bootleg.

Dance punk band LCD Soundsystem also paid tribute to this song during their final performance, blending it into their song "Tired".



  1. ^ Murphy, Sean (22 May 2011). "The 25 Best Progressive Rock Songs of All Time". PopMatters. Retrieved 31 July 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d Forgotten Yesterdays Yes tour log, retrieved 2 March 2007.

External links[edit]