Lights On White Satin

by Andrew Hatkoff

Cold hearted orb
That rules the night
Removes the colors
From our sight
Red is gray and
Yellow white
But we decide
Which is right
Which is an Illusion

Nights in White Satin, The Moody Blues

This song was imbued in my consciousness back in my college days in the late 60s (yes, I know…) and while I never pretended to understand the lyrics (OK maybe I did pretend), the meaning of the verse never really resonated with me.

Recently I was driving up to the Pantone offices outside of Boston when that song came on Classic Vinyl on my satellite car radio. Suddenly, through the perspective of age and having invested a couple of decades in color science at Pantone X-Rite, I understood the song was talking about the impact of light on color – specifically the subjective nature of color, which varies depending on the kind of light illuminating it.

Hearing that song again gave me a whole new appreciation of the meaning of that particular verse. I certainly did not expect the Moody Blues to be into color science. Go figure…