Ave, Portnoy! A Change of Seasons

change of seasons
Dream Theater, A CHANGE OF SEASONS (Eastwest, 1995)

This morning, immediately prior to my 9:30 seminar, several students and I started talking about the sheer brilliance and super-human tenacity of Mike Portnoy.  This guy just never ceases to amaze me.  Watching him play on the fantastic new Flying Colors DVD just reminded me yet again of what a master musician the guy is.

He brings so much to the art, all of it good.

I even admire his temper, especially when he uses it righteously.  He simply does not suffer unprofessional foolishness.  The world would be in much better shape, frankly, with a million more like Portnoy.

After the fond discussion with my students about Portnoy, I pulled out an EP from twenty years ago, A CHANGE OF SEASONS.  Of course, a very young Portnoy wrote the lyrics and the rather moving story for this twenty-three minute epic.  It tells the tale, somewhat symbolically, of the education of a child—formally in the classroom as well as informally in the halls of school—and the loss of a beloved parent.  Much of the story reflects the then crazily popular Robin Williams film, Dead Poets Society, and the epic even samples from the movie.

When A CHANGE OF SEASONS first came out, I listened to it (as well as Spock’s Beard, THE LIGHT) obsessively.  Lights out, headphones on.  Picking it up today, it sounds as fresh to me know as it did two decades ago in Bloomington, Indiana.  Once again, I am in awe of Mike Portnoy and in his debt.