I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the amount of new music I’ve listened to since joining Progarchy, and I’ve been wondering how I managed to get along without much of the music I listen to on an almost daily basis now! I’ve also been thinking about my first exposure to what I now understand to be progressive rock. At the time, I would have just called it classic rock.
I was a little kid. Maybe 6th grade, but for some reason I think it was a few years earlier. Let’s go with 2004 or 2005. I remember sitting in my brother’s bedroom as my Dad plugged his 40 gig iPod classic (remember those, black and white screen, weighed a couple pounds) into my brother’s stereo to relive the glory days with his college roommate who was in town and over for dinner. My first experience hearing Rush was the high pitched Geddy Lee saying, “We’d like to play for you side one from our latest album. This is called 2112.” Those last few words stuck in my mind for years as being so incredibly cool. And I felt cool for listening to it. Even though I didn’t remember the music at all for the next few years after that, I did remember, “This is called 2112,” and those words seemed to constantly run through my head.
Fast forward a couple of years. I’m sitting in the car with my Dad (in a church parking lot, of all places), and my Dad says, “Here’s a song I think you’ll like.” He must have known even back then that I would come to have a profound love of history. He played “Bastille Day” from All the World’s a Stage. He played a few other songs from that album, but I can’t remember which. All I remember is not being able to understand Geddy Lee’s vocals, and my Dad saying that maybe that was a good thing. A few days later, I remember bragging to my friend’s Dad that I had listened to classic rock. I felt so cool. (I probably sounded like a little loser, but hey, I felt cool.)
Fast forward again (maybe seventh grade?). I’m in my brother’s room again helping him move furniture or something. He blasts “Tom Sawyer” over his stereo. I feel cool yet again, something I didn’t often get to feel being bullied at school as a kid. Such is life. Soon after that, I got a copy of The Spirit of Radio: Greatest Hits 1974-1987 from the local library and put it on my computer and iPod. Admittedly, I only listened to about half that album, the 70s stuff through “Tom Sawyer,” but I loved it. I would blast that stuff whenever I could.
Backtrack back to 6th grade, when my brother downloads some Muse albums onto my iPod during a family vacation. I started listening to that on a regular basis as well. Fast forward again to sometime in high school, when I get to see both Dennis Deyoung and Kansas live at our town’s annual 4th of July festival. Needless to say, I quickly acquired some of their music as well.
Fast forward again to the first week of my freshman year of college (September, 2012). I’ve since acquired several more Rush albums, my favorite being A Farewell to Kings. I’m sitting in my dorm room listening to Rush on my speakers, and Connor Mullin, my dorm room neighbor, asks from the hall, “Is that Rush?” That began a series of conversations over the ensuing weeks about “progressive rock,” a term I had never heard before. I had always thought of it as classic rock. Connor and I spent hours over the next few months watching different live videos of classic prog bands from the 70s, and, in the beginning of November, the two of us drove to Detroit to see Ian Anderson perform Thick as a Brick and Thick as a Brick 2.
I was sold on Prog. The next fall, two tools (Connor and I) walk up to Dr. Birzer’s office to talk to him about our shared enjoyment of prog. Despite this being the first time we had ever met him, he, out of the graciousness of his heart, invited both of us to join Progarchy! And the rest is rock n’ roll history.
And it all began with my Dad, Rush, and “2112.” I think I’ll go give that another listen.
[PS: I just talked to my Dad after he read this article, and he told me that a friend of his introduced him to “2112” when he was in fourth or fifth grade. It seems we all discover it around the same age. May Rush long live on in our hearts and stereos.]