Michael Wilton says that QUEENSRŸCHE's touching ballad "Silent Lucidity" helped the band cross over from a primarily hard rock audience to the mainstream.
After building a devoted fan base with album and EP releases throughout the 1980s, including 1988's critically acclaimed "Operation: Mindcrime", QUEENSRŸCHE achieved multi-platinum success across North America and abroad with the 1990 release of "Empire". In the U.S., the album peaked at No. 7 on The Billboard 200 chart and "Silent Lucidity" quickly became a heavy rotation staple at rock radio and on MTV, topping Billboard's Modern Rock singles chart and earning QUEENSRŸCHE the coveted MTV "Viewers Choice Award" for the song's music video. "Empire" also made the U.K.'s Top 10, and the album's international success led to QUEENSRŸCHE's 18-month headlining "Building Empires" world tour, the band's longest trek to date.
During a recent interview with Dead Rhetoric, Wilton was asked how "Silent Lucidity"'s cross-genre appeal affected QUEENSRŸCHE and its fanbase.
"That song obviously was a song that hit so many people," the guitarist said. "Not just QUEENSRŸCHE fans, but casual QUEENSRŸCHE fans and even non-QUEENSRŸCHE fans. It had all the ingredients — it had MTV behind it, the video behind it, the record company behind it. I remember first and foremost when [then-QUEENSRŸCHE guitarist] Chris [DeGarmo] played it for me on an acoustic guitar, we thought it could be a really cool song. And it just grew, we got Michael Kamen involved with the orchestration, we were just stretching the envelope. It was a great song that Chris wrote that just transcended the usual QUEENSRŸCHE fan, and he hit a home run."
Two years ago, former QUEENSRŸCHE singer Geoff Tate said that "Silent Lucidity" almost didn't make "Empire". "It wasn't completed until the very end, and it didn't have any of the orchestra; it was just vocals and guitar," he explained to "Trunk Nation". "And the producer that we worked with at the time, Peter Collins, didn't think that it was a very completed idea, and he thought it should be saved for another record [so] we could get more time to complete it. But we pursued it and made it happen and put it on the record, and I'm glad we did, 'cause it definitely has made an impact."
Asked who in the band really pushed for "Silent Lucidity" to be included on "Empire", Tate said: "Oh, Chris and I. We were very into the song, and we wanted it on the record. The problem is we presented it too early to the producer; we didn't have all the parts in place. Very few people can imagine something out of thin air, before it's actually there. So it's asking a lot for us to say, 'Well, just imagine it with this orchestral accompaniment.' [Laughs] 'Cause that could be anything. So until Michael Kamen finished the orchestra parts, it was really an unknown. But then once we had those in place and we played it back for Peter, he was all thumbs up. He [said], 'Oh, it's a beautiful song here. You should definitely put it on the record.'"
Tate also talked about "Silent Lucidity"'s lasting influence, saying that "People have been married to that song, children have been born to that song, people have been buried to that song, and children have been made to that song. It's really had quite an impact on the population, you know."
"Silent Lucidity" was written about a person having a lucid dream. A lucid dream happens when you are aware that you are dreaming, and can control parts of it. DeGarmo got the idea from a book called "Creative Dreaming". "The song is about the ability to realize that you're dreaming, recognize it, and actually participate in the dream, shape it, change it," the guitarist said in a 1990 interview. "I had never had the opportunity to present it in song form, to talk about it. It happened nicely on this particular project."