Prog-Rock Rules!

Embracing the once-fetid with Yes

Among the curious phenomena associated with becoming an elderly sack of shit—for me, at least—has been a series of bewildering reappraisals of bands whose very existence I once found personally insulting. I no longer despise some of these acts with the passion I harbored 20 years ago, and in a few cases, I belatedly/guiltily even enjoy them today against my better instincts. I suppose by now I'm also beginning to assume that horrible sweet/musty aroma associated with aging like a human wedge of cheese. Wild, wiry hairs began sprouting from my ear holes and nostrils last year, too, and I was forced to purchase a humiliating personal-hygiene device. Look, I can't help it; bad things are happening to me, as they will to you, too, someday—if they haven't already—I promise. Shit you just totally fucking hate at this moment? You might find yourself embracing it in 20 years, amid a fresh crop of personal fur. Consider yourselves warned.

Perhaps the most unexpected turnabout in my judgment is that—fuck me, this is tough to admit—I have found myself somehow deriving tangible pleasure from prog-rock, the very stuff I've always maintained was the most reprehensible dog shit ever to emerge from the brutal excesses of '70s rock. You know: bombastic, grandiose, self-important, pseudo-classical aural flatulence performed by and for people who could never decide whether motocross or Dungeons & Dragons were more important forces in their sad, confused little lives. Emerson, Lake & Palmer, the Moody Blues, Jethro Tull, Genesis, Gentle Giant, Camel, Focus, and the kings of them all, Yes. There was and remains a stick-up-the-ass pomposity, pretension and Trekkie-esque nerdiness to every note these groups ever collectively emitted that was somehow offset by a metalhead's curious and idiosyncratic brand of self-satisfied stupidity (Deep Purple may be the group that best personified this curious contradiction, perfectly straddling both worlds like a doppelganger colossus of ridiculousness).

But I digress. Yes, which persists in some form after 35 years of vainglory, will be in OC this week, so let's discuss. When this band comes on the air in my car radio, chanting, "I've seen all good people turn their heads each day so satisfied I'm on my way" over and over ad nauseam, the effect no longer so much numbs and repulses as actually bemuses and even delights me on some primordial level. Even the dreaded "Mountains come out of the sky and they stand there" line from "Roundabout," perhaps the third most-idiotic lyric ever composed (after Neil Diamond's "And no one heard at all not even the chair" and America's "Seasons crying no despair/Alligator lizards in the air," natch) produces involuntary, Garth-like bouts of retarded head-bobbing on my part.

So that's it; I've 'fessed up. I'm an obsolete, prog-rock-enjoying disgrace. Further confessions: Andy Rooney is my favorite writer; I eat at Hometown Buffet, and the liver is my favorite entrée; I'd fuck Martha Stewart in a Hong Kong second; and Tuesday night at the Pond, that just might be me in the front row of the Yes show, wearing a puffy-sleeved shirt, shin-high lace-up moccasins, and playing the mean-assed air-synth.

Yeah, fuck you, too.

The Yes 35th Anniversary Tour at the Arrowhead Pond, 2695 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim, (714) 704-2400. Tues., 8 p.m. $45-$75. All ages.
 
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