I think some of you got the wrong idea. I come not to bury Lileks
, but to sort of kind of praise him. And then
explain why - in that one small paragraph - I think he maligned Yes. I enjoyed the rest of the column as I always do; this one was extra special because James mentioned Bill Nelson - a man who was an musical genius that no one seems to remember. I knew of Bill from Be-Bop Deluxe; my cousin was a big fan of theirs and I often stole into his room to listen to his albums. But it wasn't until 1984, when I was working at Record World and Nelson released the album Vistamix
that I became fascinated with Nelson himself. I saw him live that year, at a small, dingy nightclub called My Father's Place
- the kind of club where you stand for the whole show and suck down someone else's smoke while you are constantly being leaned on by a guy who hasn't taken a shower in at least a decade. I managed to get close to the stage - which wasn't so much a stage as a slightly raised floor - and I remained transfixed for the entire show.
I could sit here and spend an hour just writing about Vistamix
alone but I've other things to ramble about. If you happen to be one of those evil downloader/freeloader people, look up Bill Nelson - Everyday is Like Another New Drug
. Start there and work your way around.
Now, back to Lileks. Wait, we aren't up to the part about Yes yet. James is a kindred spirit for now; someone who remembers the Monroes (saw them play in a movie theater) and all that other stuff - Telecommunication
(picture me with spiked hair, in a black and blue checkered tank top and a leather mini skirt - I looked ridiculous - hopping from one foot to another with a slight nod of my head and swing of my arms because that was the way the cool kids danced back then), seeing the Romantics live (at a roller rink) and doing that jump that James describes and...whoa. Stop right there. Loverboy? Laura Brannigan? Sunglasses at Night?
That's where he loses me.
Now, far be it from me to judge a man's musical tastes; after all, what's beautiful music to one is nails on blackboard to another. So no, I'm not going to give the most popular blogger in all of the universe a beatdown just because he disagrees with me. I'm just going to...set him straight. And you're going to be disappointed.
It's not that Yes were some extraordinarily talented band of musicians who could leap tall Billboard charts in a single bound. It's not that their music was of a higher level than other bands of the time, or that pretending you understood their lyrics made you seem intellectual. To put it bluntly, they were a good band to get stoned to.
Oh yes, they were pretentious to the very core. Songs were divided into parts, and had names like Siberian Khatru
and lyrics that read like the slush pile in a poetry editor's office: A dewdrop can exalt us like the music of the sun
Really, my defense of Yes just stems from the fact that I associate them with good memories. What I remember, anyhow. We (there were five of us) spent an awful lot of nights in Kevin's room, listening to Yes, Genesis and ELP while Kevin read to us from Tolkein books. It was a lazy, self-indulgent time; we only had a little time left before we had to worry about things like college and jobs. We chose to take those last days of our hazy youth and spend them in a make believe world where hobbits and Gollum were the perfect match for words like He spoke of lands not far, nor lands they were in his mind
and the pot was always free because we stole it from Kevin's brother. We spent a long spring and summer before senior year with squinty eyes and a heavy disdain for disco that made us superior to you in every way. Dazed and Confused
? I lived that, man. Green grass and high tides forever! Whoa. Flashback.
Hang on a minute......
Ok. I went and found my Yessongs
CD. I listened to a few tracks.
Wow. It's funny how something that seemed so meaningful and extraordinary as a teenager can make you cringe when you're an adult. Does this mean I'm old now? No, it just means I realized that prog rock is nothing more than a bunch of musicians who think they can pass for geniuses because their albums have concepts (See, Dream Theatre
I apologize, James. You are on target. I don't know what you mean by the word "noodling" but it sounds just about right.
[Tomorrow: Rocky Horror
and other midnight treats]