Here’s a quick recounting of my introduction to prog. In 1972 I was 11 years old, and my parents had asked the teenaged son of good friends what would be a nice album to buy me for Christmas. Apparently, he convinced them that the only possible choice was Jethro Tull’s “Thick As A Brick”. So they dutifully wrapped it up and put it under the tree.
I was already well on my way to my obsession with music, having saved every spare cent I could get to buy Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Green River”, and Simon and Garfunkel’s “Greatest Hits”. However, “Thick As A Brick” was a different proposition altogether. How weird could you get, making an entire album that contained one song? And who exactly was this Jethro Tull guy? I admit it was quite awhile before I realized that “Thick As A Brick” was not done by a solo artist.
The newspaper cover – I spent hours poring over every article in the St. Cleve Chronicle, until I felt I personally knew the inhabitants of that English borough. In the front page photo, Gerald Bostock’s friend, Julia, intrigued me. Why was she holding her skirt like that? And imagine the embarrassment and confusion I felt when I finished Fluffy Duck’s connect-the-dots puzzle! I quickly realized that I probably shouldn’t leave the album near the family stereo where Mom and Dad could pick it up and peruse the cover’s contents.
But the music – wow. I’d never heard anything like it. I could listen to it dozens of times and find new things to appreciate with each hearing. To this day, I can replay the entire “song” in my head from start to finish. After I became comfortable with mp3 digital technology, one of the first things I did was use Audacity to edit the two LP sides into one seamless song. Now I can listen to it the way Ian Anderson must have intended it to be heard.
Thanks Mom and Dad, for your willingness to introduce me to new music, and your long-suffering patience as I played my progressive rock albums during many family dinners!