As I am sure is true for all of us, albums I love and cherish and listen to, repeatedly, carry with them fond personal memories. For better or worse, almost every single Neal Morse album and Spock’s Beard album comes with a story, and usually more than one. As I’ve mentioned on progarchy before, I’ll never forget the release of the first Spock’s Beard album, THE LIGHT. Being a prog fan since as far back as I can remember, I had no idea about the arrival of neo-Prog in England, and I had to content myself in the early 1990s with jam bands such as Phish and jam pop bands such as the Dave Matthews Band to satisfy my not so easily satisfied prog desires. I had purchased so many CDs and had had so many discussions with the manager of Tracks in Bloomington, Indiana, that she remained on the lookout for me. Anything that even remotely smacked of prog, she let me know. She rather gleefully handed me a copy of THE LIGHT when it first came out. To say I was thrilled would be an understatement. I was just plain elated, inserting that cd in the tray, putting on my Sennheizers, and falling into prog bliss, attempting to follow all the nuances of the album and to figure out all of the lyrics. I mean really, who is the catfish man?
And, why did this guy with such a great voice have to cuss so much?
When SNOW first came out, I was rather obsessed–trying to figure it all out with every bit of energy that had first attracted me to THE LIGHT. Not just one disk now, but two. Truly, the prog gods had smiled on all of us.
Story One. Soon after SNOW came out, my in-laws visited. My father in law is an incredible man. A retired colonel in the U.S. Army, a decorated veteran, and a former chemical engineer. He can pretty much do anything, but, when it comes to rock music, I’m pretty sure his love of it ended when the Beatles grew their hair long and released RUBBER SOUL. I had put disk one of SNOW on the home stereo and accidentally hit repeat. I then ran up to my college office for the day. When I returned home for dinner, I could see that my wife and in laws were humorously annoyed at SNOW, having listened to disk one at least five times in a row. “Brad,” my father in law said in his Texas deadpan, “I know a lot more about a guy named John whom everyone calls Snow than I’ve ever wanted.” Poor dad!
Story Two. About a decade ago, I was delivering a series of lectures in the Pacific Northwest, and I had to drive from Portland to Spokane. It was the first time I had made the trip, and I started getting restless in the middle of it. Seeing a sign for a hike, I pulled over. As it turned out, the hike–which I had assumed would be glorious in terms of view–followed an old train bed, cut roughly six to eight feet into the ground. For miles, I walked seeing nothing but the path and the incline on either side, blocking all views of God’s wonders. Still, I had my iPod, and I had SNOW on the iPod. What a joy. My views might have been bunk, but my ears were in heaven.
What’s your story?