The Moody Blues still out there somewhere

Want to feel old?

The Moody Blues are celebrating the 45th anniversary of their revolutionary album, “Days of Future Passed.”

Want to feel inadequate?

Singer-songwriter-guitarist Justin Hayward was 20-years-old when he joined the band and contributed the elegant “Nights in White Satin” and “Tuesday Afternoon.”

And that was the launching point of a career that has encompassed 70 million albums sold, more than 25 “hits” (the band has always been more about cohesive albums than radio singles) and incessant touring for The Moody Blues.

Original member Graeme Edge is still keeping the beat for Hayward and bassist John Lodge, who both joined the Moodys in 1966, two years after the band formed. And the trio is back on the road again for “The Moody Blues: The Voyage Continues – Highway 45” tour, in honor of the “Days of Future Passed” landmark.

At this point, crafting a set list to satisfy all generations is impossible, but Hayward and his bandmates spend significant time combing through the trove.

“It’s tough because we’re a band with a huge catalog. We were an album band, so I’m not saying we were brilliantly prolific, just that people love those album tracks. It sort of becomes, it’s not what to play, it’s what to leave out is the real dilemma. To make it fair and to make it flow, you have to resign yourself to saying, ‘I LOVE that song…but we can’t play it this time around,’” Hayward said last week from his hotel room in Sarasota, Fla.

The tour launched last week with six dates in Florida and, according to set list reports, the shows span the band’s career fairly – from the aforementioned classics on “Days” to 1969’s “Are You Sitting Comfortably?” to ‘70s fave “I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band)” through their ‘80s return with “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere” and “Your Wildest Dreams.”

In its time, “Days” was a landmark, one of the first acknowledged rock albums to include symphonic elements.

It was born out of an idea to make a rock version of Antonín Dvořák's “New World Symphony,” which the band agreed to do as a way of paying off their debts from album advances.

“[Composer] Peter Knight said to us, ‘This record will be for rock people and classical people.’ The next thing I remember is playing a little club on Oxford Street [in England] and Peter saying, ‘I like your stuff best. You do your stuff and I’ll orchestrate in between,’” Hayward said. “We thought, great! It involves us doing nothing! So we wrote a few more songs – I had already written ‘Nights in White Satin’ -- and I went and wrote ‘Tuesday Afternoon’ and a couple of the other guys chose bits of the day [the concept album follows a day in the life of a character] and we recorded it very quickly.”

Hayward, the baby of the current lineup at 65, knows that what The Moody Blues accomplished in its heyday is a bygone era, one replaced, in all regards, by solitude.

“The kind of records I’m making now are with one or two guys in a room with a couple of computers and occasionally you’ll get a drummer in,” he said.

And as far as the listening experience – a hazy memory of holding a vinyl record, poring over liner notes and absorbing a cohesive piece of musical art as opposed to today’s cherry-picked singles market – Hayward is equally reflective.

“I do miss the days of going to someone’s house, never having the TV on, getting stoned and all of us listening to one record. That’s what I miss,” he said.

But the Moodys will continue to remind audiences of their musical prowess for a good portion of 2012. After this six-week run ends, the band heads to South Africa for a handful of dates and, Hayward said, might return to the U.S. for a Christmas tour before rolling through Europe in 2013.

“We’ll see how things go,” he said. “There’s always work for us.”

Concert preview

Moody Blues

8 p.m. March 24. $46.50-$76.50. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. N.E., Atlanta. 1-800-745-3000,