Meaning of “Roundabout [Yessongs]” by Yes

Written By Michael Miller

Michael is a music teacher and professional cellist. He loves uncovering the deeper meaning of popular songs.

“Roundabout” paints an evocative landscape, combining elements of nature, emotion, and time. At its core, it’s about journeys, both physical and emotional, with hints of romance and introspection. The song embodies a sense of connection with the world, a longing, and the joy of cherished memories. It isn’t about a specific person, but rather an experience and a feeling that the songwriter wishes to share.

Curious about the layers hidden within this classic track? Let’s embark on a lyrical journey together.

“Roundabout [Yessongs]” Lyrics Meaning

The opening lines “I’ll be the roundabout” speak of continuity, with the term “roundabout” likely symbolizing a cycle or journey that repeats itself. Following this, “The words will make you out ‘n’ out” possibly hints at the clarity or revelation these journeys bring.

“I’ll spend the day your way” suggests a willingness to adapt and find harmony with someone else’s desires, followed by the picturesque “Call it morning driving through the sound and in and out the valley.” These lines conjure up visuals of a peaceful morning drive, where one is enveloped by the serenity of nature.

The segment “The muses dance and sing, they make the children really ring” indicates inspiration and joy, perhaps reminding us of innocent and simpler times.

“In and around the lake, mountains come out of the sky and they stand there” is particularly poetic. The imagery suggests majesty and permanence, emphasizing the grandeur of nature. This notion is further underscored by lines like “One mile over we’ll be there and we’ll see you, ten true summers we’ll be there and laughing too.” Time, memories, and the promise of reunions come to the fore here.

As we delve deeper, the lyrics “Your silhouette will charge the view of distance atmosphere” conveys a profound emotional connection, hinting that even a mere silhouette can invoke intense feelings.

The portion discussing the eagle and the sailor offers a juxtaposition of perspectives – the bird overseeing vast expanses and the sailor, connected with the land. Both are influenced by the forces of nature, reminding us of our own vulnerabilities.

Lastly, the repeated “I’ll be the roundabout” signifies the song coming full circle, reiterating the ongoing cycle of life, journeys, and memories.

Why Was “Roundabout [Yessongs]” Written?

Yes, primarily driven by Jon Anderson and Steve Howe in their songwriting, often ventured into expansive, poetic, and intricate compositions. The inspiration for “Roundabout” was derived from a journey they took through Scotland, experiencing its beautiful landscapes.

The song captures the wonderment and profundity of nature, both in its calm serenity and its overpowering grandeur. The lyrics mirror the varied emotions one feels when engrossed in such breathtaking views. Moreover, at the time of its creation, the band was undergoing changes and evolving its sound, and “Roundabout” was a reflection of that metamorphosis.

The state of mind of the writers, therefore, was one of contemplation, growth, and reverence for the world around them. They crafted a piece that not only showcased their musical prowess but also encapsulated the essence of life’s journeys, both literal and metaphorical.