Grand Illusion

Grand Illusion visualizer with lyric
Photograph: Marlon Schmeiski

“Grand Illusion” opens Bachelors Anonymous’s eponymous six-song album, remastered and re-released digitally. Bachelor Rob Berg tells the story behind the song.


A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away… or so it seems, I joined a Hindu monastery in Hollywood. I had arrived in Los Angeles in the spring of 1977 with my band at that time, The Mystery Group. We were a three-piece group, bass, guitar and keyboard—still drummerless—that had played eclectic venues in San Francisco and the Bay Area for the last five years. Feeling stuck in a rut there, we decided we had to move to Los Angeles to make it BIG in the music industry. Almost as soon as we arrived, the band broke up. Now I had to decide what to do for the rest of my life.

My fellow bandmate, Mikey Price, the guitarist, had introduced me to a Hindu temple in San Francisco. Now we both started going to a branch of that temple in Hollywood. I felt quite at home there. It was a sign from God: moving to L.A., divorcing from my musical family, living blocks from that temple. At 24, I had no burning desire to do anything else in the world. 

Fast forward 6 years, approaching 30, I was on track to take my first monastic vows of brahmacharya. I had not renounced music. In fact, I had formed another band within the monastery: The Razor’s Edge. That may have been my downfall. I fell in love—became infatuated with—one of the musicians I played music with. 

Over a year, I became hopelessly attached to this man. And I just assumed he felt the same way about me. But since I was a monk I could never talk about it. One day I just couldn’t take it anymore and I revealed my true feelings to him. (I had already decided I would not be taking monastic vows.) He was stunned! Shocked! He hadn’t a clue about how I felt. He was straight. “We were just good friends.”

I was devastated of course. I never cried so much before or since. My heart felt like a wet towel being wrung out—endlessly—over and over. Another part of me felt very ashamed and extremely stupid. How could I fall in love with someone who was completely unavailable in every way, shape or form? And so this became the first real “love” song I had ever written: Grand Illusion. It’s such a cliché, but so true: “from great pain, comes great art.” And I dare to say Grand Illusion is the best song I have ever written.

Now that I read the lyrics again, it reeks of resentment towards the person who “spurned” me. Today, I accept total responsibility for what happened. He had nothing to do with it.

P.S. I remained friends with the musician and never fell in love with a straight guy again.

Grand Illusion

I hear your name and see you walk away 
And it pricks me just enough to ruin my day 
A worn-out image that grows increasingly vague 
But remains opaque 

I can’t believe I ever called you wise 
When you didn’t see the fire in my eyes 
Secret and divine signs lost deep inside you 
Told me that you knew 

Chorus 
People come and people go and leave their mark upon your soul 
You know that’s the way of the world 
I don’t love you now as I loved you then 
But still somehow I can’t comprehend that it was all… 
Grand illusion 

So drift along your flimsy raft of dreams 
And forget about commitment: end and means 
I’ve been there before and just can’t drift anymore 
See you back on shore 

Chorus

What is life like through your eyes? 
Is it cloudy or blue skies? 
I don’t have the time to wait and see 
Your version of reality 
It’s all… 
Grand illusion 

I hear your name and slowly walk away 
And don’t allow that word to spoil my day 
Those threadbare images appear to melt like the snow 
Tell me where do they go? 

Chorus

Lyrics Reprinted by Permission

Credits

BACHELORS ANONYMOUS is
Rob Berg: Synth, Vocals
David Hughes: Drum Box, Vocals

Written by Rob Berg

Produced by
Bachelors Anonymous and Rick Novak

Instruments recorded at
The Men’s Dept. (4-track), 1985

Vocals recorded at
Control Center, 1985

Engineered and mixed by
Rick Novak
Control Center, 1985

Mastered by
Scott A. Jennings
Artistry in Sound, 2020

Photograph by
Rocky Schenck
Album cover by
David Hughes

© ℗ 1985, 2020 Berg & Hughes
Celibataire Music (ASCAP)

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