Starship Trooper

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"Starship Trooper"
Song by Yes
from the album The Yes Album
Recorded1970 (1970)
StudioAdvision, London
GenreProgressive rock[1]
"Life Seeker"
Single by Yes
from the album The Yes Album
A-side"I've Seen All Good People: Your Move" (UK)
Released1971 (1971)
Songwriter(s)Jon Anderson
  • Yes
  • Eddy Offord

"Starship Trooper" is a song written by British musicians Jon Anderson, Steve Howe and Chris Squire, which first appeared on Yes' 1971 album The Yes Album. The song is in three parts, "Life Seeker", "Disillusion" and "Würm" . "Life Seeker" was released as a single on the B-side of the UK release of "Your Move".

Lyrics and music[edit]

Anderson was aware of the title of Starship Troopers, the 1959 novel by Robert A. Heinlein, and from that got the idea of a "Starship Trooper being another guardian angel and Mother Earth".[2][3] "Starship Trooper" was constructed from pieces of music written separately by Anderson, Howe and Squire.[4] Anderson was the primary author of "Life Seeker".[5] Squire wrote most of the "Disillusion" section; this section had earlier been used with slightly different lyrics as the bridge for the song "For Everyone", with Squire providing the lead vocals. Howe had written the instrumental "Würm" section while he was in an earlier band (Bodast).[4]

The song was heavily constructed in the recording studio, and as a result the band were never able to play it live quite the way it was recorded.[5] The song changes mood, rhythm, tempo and style continually, but according to Yes biographer Chris Welch, it still manages to "hang together".[6] Authors Pete Brown and Lisa Sharken describe the "Würm" section as "a Bolero-paced chord sequence that builds into an explosive solo".[7] They note that Howe's solo incorporates rockabilly and country music elements rather than on blues-based music with distortion as is typical for these types of solos.[7]

A theme of "Life Seeker" is the search for God.[3][5] Anderson has stated that the lyrics:

Mother life hold firmly onto me
Spread my knowledge higher than the day
Release as much as only you can show

refer to "the point within yourself that knows you," which we call "God."[5] The lyrics accept the fact that "no matter how much you want to get clearer visions of what you're up to, you're only going to get a certain amount."[5]

The song uses UFO imagery.[3] Other themes that have been inferred for the song include new age ideas and environmentalism.[3][8]

Critical reception[edit]

Yes biographer Chris Welch describes "Starship Trooper" as "one the most astonishing pieces" in Yes' repertoire.[6] Welch particularly praises the "Würm" section for its "grinding intensity."[6] The New Rolling Stone Album Guide critic Ernesto Lechner described the song as being "ethereal."[9] Pitchfork Media considered "Howe's slow, spacey guitar build at the end" of the song to be "one of the great Yes moments."[10]

Other appearances[edit]

"Starship Trooper" has appeared on many of Yes' live albums and DVDs, including Yessongs, 9012Live, Keys to Ascension, Symphonic Live, Like It Is: Yes at the Bristol Hippodrome, and, most recently, Topographic Drama - Live Across America.[11] It has also appeared on compilation albums such as Yesstory.[11]




  1. ^ Murphy, Sean (29 March 2017). "The 100 Best Classic Progressive Rock Songs: Part 4, 40-21". PopMatters. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  2. ^ Carl Wiser (17 May 2013). "Songwriter Interviews: Jon Anderson of Yes".
  3. ^ a b c d Romano, W. (2010). Mountains Come Out of the Sky: The Illustrated History of Prog Rock. Backbeat Books. ISBN 9781617133756.
  4. ^ a b Howe, S. "Starship Trooper". Retrieved 23 August 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d e Yes (1996). Yesstories: Yes In Their Own Words. MacMillan. ISBN 9780312144531.
  6. ^ a b c Welch, C. (2009). Close to the Edge: The Story of Yes. Omnibus Press. ISBN 9780857120427.
  7. ^ a b Brown, P. & Sharken, L. (2003). Gear Secrets of the Guitar Legends: How to Sound Like Your Favorite Players. Hal Leonard. p. 64. ISBN 9780879307516.
  8. ^ Chambers, S. (2002). Yes: An Endless Dream of '70s, '80s and '90s Rock Music: an Unauthorized Interpretative History in Three Phases. GeneralStore. pp. 22–23. ISBN 9781894263474.
  9. ^ Lechner, E. (2004). Brackett, N.; Hoard, C. (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon & Schuster. p. 895. ISBN 9780743201698.
  10. ^ Dahien, C.; Leone, D. & Tangari, J. "Yes: The Yes Album". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 25 August 2014.
  11. ^ a b "Starship Trooper". Allmusic. Retrieved 23 August 2014.

External links[edit]