Hello Progarchists! I’m back. . . though a little later than I had meant to be.
For those two of you (ha) who you have been waiting eagerly to know my favorite album of 2017, I give you not one album. Oh no, not one. . . but two albums and two EPs: Grimspound; Second Brightest Star; London Song; and the Merry Christmas EP.
All by one band, of course. And not just any band, but an extraordinary band. The best prog band in the world (tied with Glass Hammer, at least to my ears and soul), the band that reveals every.single.thing.that.is.good.in.prog, Big Big Train.
Greg, David, Dave, Nick, Rachel, Rikard, Andy, Danny, and, that 9th BBTer, Rob—congratulations. Whatever other hells happened in the world in 2017, 2017 will always be, to me, the “Year of Big Big Train.” You overwhelmed us not with quantity, but with quality. And, dare I say it: with love.
In a year of screaming, violence, tweets gone mad, and sabre rattling, you reminded every one of us what is most important in this world—not the things that are fleeting, but the things that are eternal, the things so great that they can never be marred by our idiocy, our choices, and our sins.
Big Big Train’s music in 2017, especially given the darkness that surrounds us, reminds me so powerfully of my favorite passage in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Sam’s vision in Mordor.
There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.
What Sam understood is what Big Big Train has given us in 2017AD.
The band’s music has reached into things eternal and immanetized them, giving us tangible hope, faith, and love. For Tolkien as well as for Big Big Train, the white star is Venus, goddess of love and bearer of gifts from the gods.