Wednesday, March 07, 2007


What is Prog-Rock? It ain't really a term I ever used b'fore with any reg'larity. My friend Billy just blogged about it. And it got me to thinking.

It's a beautiful looking word -- "progrock." Better it was pronounced 'p'grock,' maybe? I think it's short for "Progressive Rock," but I mean, who cares? In what way is it "progressive"? Is there any one band that said, "We play Progressive Rock?" Did King Crimson? Marillion?

Or better, when I was a kid, that the local radio station was a "Progressive" radio station, which meant it played R.E.M., like around the Murmur years...not PrOGrock. Oh well...(oo, that struck a chord...what about the days when the progressive rock station was at the end of the dial? Before the alternative became the mainstream?...)

Is progrock something that was "invented" by Brian Eno while he was a part of Roxy Music, and before he went onto make his own mark in the great beyond, the unindentifiable realm? I think that music is sanctified, so maybe not "prog-rock." But then again...

Why isn't Bob Dylan "Progressive Rock"? Ain't he progressive? How about Bruce Cockburn? Or maybe he's Canadian? But so is Rush.

O.K., here's what my now-English friend Billy wrote on his blog Billy Smash:

My wife thinks all boys go through a phase when they like the band Rush. I certainly loved all the pompous, long-winded, pretentious, idiotic prog-rock bands: Yes, Styx, Rush, The Moody Blues, Jethro Tull, Genesis, Pink Floyd etc...

Here are some actual lyrics to a song by Rush:

Tobes of Hades, lit by flickering torchlight
The netherworld is gathered in the glare
Prince By-Tor takes the cavern to the north light
The sign of Eth is rising in the air

Listening to this rubbish would be forgivable, if I was your typical progressive rock afficionado: you know, stoned all the time, or even some of the time. But drugs were more alien to me than Prince By-Tor's caverns or even The Celestial Travellers that Yes warned me of in their epic album Tormato!!

I honestly thought conceptual, rock-opera, triple albums about trees and mythology and alternate realities and shit like that were cool without the aid of mind-altering substances. To paraphrase the immortal Emerson Lake and Palmer:

"Welcome back my friends to the dork who has no friends- we're so glad you could attend, come inside, come inside."

and what my now-German friend Carlos wrote on my now-English friend Billy's BLOG:

Los Says:
Rush ruled! “We are the priests of the temple of Syrinx!!!!!”I must admit I did have a crush on Marie Osmond as well. A few other embrassing shows I loved to watch:
Love Boat - Dukes of Hazard - Fantasy Island line up...

Mathias The Swede Says:
I do think that all boys go through a progrock phase, only difference is that over here in Europe instead of Asia and Styx (who i never heard of before noving to the US) we had Marillion and early Genesis.

I added:

Billy, I must now proclaim, “There is unrest in the forest. There is trouble with the trees!”

I thought everyone on the internetz went to an Asia concert. We are ONE in our otherness. They is us and we are altogether. Read the Player’s Manual, Billy. There is a reason why “player” has become such a big term with kids today. Chaotic Evil is indeed more evil than being Neutral or Lawful Evil and there is much to be learned from “Alignment.”

Thank you, Billy. Thank you for celebrating the everyday…the now-gone — the Dungeons and Daryl Dragons. Love Boat Live On, Billy. Love Boat Live On! Oh, Lauren Tewes — my dream Friend, lover, sister, mother, wife and cruise director — show me a sign. I AM TODAY’S Tom Sawyer!…Geddy Lee — so many instruments — and Alex Lifeson — OMG…you’re my guitar hero.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You're right on both counts.

Musically, Prog Rock means everything from the Yes/ELO/Praying Mantis/Styx to the newer combiners of Prog & Psyche like The Heads and Comets On Fire. Maybe Hawkwind & Chrome too? I don't know enough about those genres to say for sure.

Anyway, "Progressive Rock" is also radio station jargon for what those of us of a certain age call "College Rock"- REM, Jesus & Mary Chain, Husker Du, everyone from Athens GA, etc etc. When I was just in New Orleans, I found out that WTUL (Tulane's excellent station) still uses "Progressive" to mark shows that play what most people nowadays call "Alternative" (whatever that means, but that's another 20 paragraphs!).

Rock on! Jesse Luscious

P.S.- I think it's safe to say that in the underground, you're either someone who LOVES Rush or someone who HATES Rush. Some of the most d.i.y. people gush over that band. It's one of the few bands I won't play requests for, probably trauma left over from early 80s rock radio!