What was your great moment, when you first “stepped out” (Latin: progressus) and went forth, advancing into prog?
Can you recall those great moments when you proceeded to access prog’s transcendent “worlds within worlds”… to go wheeling through the galaxies of “genres within genres”?
I’ll never forget the first time I heard “Xanadu”, especially when it all came together with Alex’s outro solo…
Nota bene: That solo kicks in below at 8:20.
6 thoughts on “Great Moments in Prog — Part 1”
I’d have to say it all started with Porcupine Tree in Oct-Dec 2008, when a friend suggested some songs. Can’t really remember which one exactly triggered my love for elaborated music, but ‘Normal’, ‘Lazarus’ and ‘Start of Something Beautiful’ were the three that did it. PT’s Deadwing, Fear of a Blank Planet catalyzed my quest for adventurous and progressive music.
My favourite bands since, say, 2004 (at age 15) were probably (chronologically until 2008) Led Zeppelin, Radiohead, Pink Floyd and Sigur Ros. It’s kind of odd in a way. Although I know that most prog bands owe their existence partly (mostly) to bands like Yes, Genesis, King Crimson, Jethro Tull,… I never really digged deep into their respective back catalogues. I own Yes’ Close to the Edge and Yes Album, KC’s ITCotCK, Genesis’ Foxtrot, Lamb and Selling England, Van Der Graaf Generator’s Godbluff,… but never really listened attentively to those albums. I am planning to, though. No doubt about that. In the near future. I just find the quality of the Porcupine Tree (and Opeth, Karnivool, Oceansize, Big Big Train, Neal Morse and so much more) and Steven Wilson sound more… pleasant, familiar (although twisted beautiful sometimes), welcoming. More emotional, feelings, more melancholy in there, too.
Anyway, it’s great to talk about this 🙂 A new world has openend itself to me about four years ago. Name a prog band and I’ve probably seen ’em live by now 😉 Curious for other stories!
I was oddly oblivious to most music until my early teens. I was raised on church music (classic Protestant hymns) and really bad contemporary Christian music. My road to prog came through AOR acts such as Journey, REO Speedwagon, Loverboy, Foreigner, and Styx, with a helping of popular mid-80s albums by ELO, Elton John, Toto, and Queen. I found the standard rock of the day (Bon Jovi, etc.) to be rather dull; I was fascinated by the more extended songs of Elton (the early 1970s stuff), Queen, and the Moody Blues.
And then, around 1985 or so, I bought a copy of “The Best of Kansas”. That opened the door! Over the next three years, I ended up collecting everything by Kansas, Kerry Livgren (solo and with AD), and Steve Morse (solo, Dixie Dregs, etc.). I also went on a serious Moody Blues binge, focusing on the early stuff, prior to their more pop-oriented work of the mid-’80s. Then I really got into Yes, Rush, and Pink Floyd; in fact, while in Bible college (1989-91), I freaked out some of my more staid classmates with my obsessive interest in Pink Floyd, Queen, Queenrÿche, and King’s X. The latter was a major revelation, especially the brilliant, crunching, melodic beauty of “faith hope love”, which was a masterful blend of hard rock, metal, prog, blues, and Beatle-esque harmonies. And I recall very clearly driving across the Montana plains to school in Saskatchewan, blaring “Fly By Night” and other brilliant Rush tunes. Ah, to be young again.
In my early twenties (1990-1995), I also launched into Van Morrison, Seal, Jeff Buckley, Radiohead, and jazz, five of my big musical loves ever since (you’ll hear more about all of them in due time). My interest in prog advanced in fits and starts; the next big breakthrough was Dream Theater in the late 1990s, followed by Spock’s Beard, then Porcupine Tree and a bunch of others. Then, around 2004, I “discovered” Frank Sinatra, which led to the purchase of about 1,000 Sinatra tunes. I mention Sinatra because I have the semi-crazy idea of writing a blog titled, “Sinatra: Grandfather of Prog?”, that will either get me ejected from Progarchy, or enshrined in the Progarchy Hall of Fame.
In the end, I count Kansas as the band that really “progged” me. I’ll have to write more about that at another time!
Ohh yes, I do remember. Pink Floyd – The Wall changed my life. I was 15, around 1999, just moved to a new and weird city where nobody seems understand me (and they didn’t heheheh). I went in the Roger Waters worls like an orphan, really.
I HAD to understand each lyric on that double LP and translated them to understand (I’m brazilian), I had to learn each and every song on the acoustic guitar and so on.
That definitelly changed everything. Then came APP (Edgar Allan Poe), Renaissance (Ashes), Jethro Tull (TAAB) and Yes (Yes Album). Since them I dig each and every piece I could. My maniac side thanks all those forgotten albums from 70’s/80’s/90’s and why not 00’s 🙂
I’ve been waiting to find time to answer this post, now I finally have it. I can state, with great precision, the time and place that the prog gene became irrevocably encoded into my DNA (or awakened from dormancy, if you will): June 23, 1979, approximately 9 PM to midnight, Rupp Arena, Lexington, KY. I was a few days past my 15th birthday and had in my hands one of the presents I received – a ticket to see Yes in concert. They were touring in support of Tormato and on their 10th anniversary. The stage for the show would be ‘in the round’, a revolving stage at the center of the arena.
I knew very little about Yes at that time. In school, a month or so prior when the concert had been announced, some friends there had assured my I should go and that it would be worth it. I casually mentioned to some in my family that I would like to go, and it was taken as the hint it was, resulting in the ticket I later received. Still, I hadn’t really sought out to listen to any Yes prior to the night of the concert and knew very little of what we call ‘prog’. Unbeknownst to me, I actually had one prog album in my collection by then – ‘2112’ by Rush, but I nevertheless did not know much about any genre of prog. I just knew I liked that album without wondering if there was more music like it.
So off to the concert I went that night, not having any huge expectations other than to enjoy myself and have a good time listening to a band play some music. You could say I got much more than I bargained for, in a good way – and in a life-changing way. Simply put, I was blown away. This wasn’t just a rock band, and this wasn’t just a rock concert I was witnessing, it was something completely on another plane. While I was unfamiliar with their catalog at the time, I clearly remember them playing ‘Future Times/Rejoice’, ‘Heart of the Sunrise’, a great acoustic guitar solo by Steve Howe, and the dreamy harp/organ section of ‘Awaken’. It was quite apparent that these guys were significantly more talented than most other rock musicians out there, and quite apparent that the guitar, bass, and keyboards were particularly unique relative to any other music I had ever heard. Thankfully, this would only be the first of six times I would have the pleasure of seeing Yes in concert.
Leaving Rupp Arena that night, I was not just impressed, but I was *hooked*. Within a year I had every album between ‘The Yes Album’ and ‘Tormato’, and was anxiously awaiting the release of Drama (although saddened that Anderson and Wakemen had left by then). But Drama impressed me quite a bit as well.
During the same period, I became familiar with some of the other popular progressive rock bands of the time, acquiring albums by Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, ELP, and more Rush. As the years went by, my search for more progressive rock led me to some of the neo-prog bands of the 80’s and into the back catalog of other 70’s prog bands I had previously missed, such as Gabriel/Hacket-era Genesis, Rennaissance, various solo works, and so on. And in the last decade plus, thanks to the internet, I’ve run into the happy problem of discovering that there is more prog out there than I will ever be able to listen to in my lifetime.
There is plenty of other music that I like and have listened to over the years outside of prog. But prog is still unequivocally my first musical love and will remain so until the day I die, and I can trace it right back to the fateful Saturday night in Rupp Arena.
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