Sunday, January 14, 2007

Oh how I sighed when they asked if I knew his name

With the end of the Eagles season comes the end of information and stats for me to read at work to waste time. There are no injury reports or game predictions to keep my busy. There are no more "Garcia rising out of the ashes" stories to read as the time passes by. There's a black hole in the uselessness throughout my workday. I need something else. I need some more useless information to pump in my brain as my computer screen sucks the life out of my eyeballs.

I recently read a line in Chuck Klosterman's latest opus that struck me: "Prog rock is not music about the future. It about something from the past that never happened." In case you were wondering what prog rock is, here is horrible definition from Wikipedia:
Progressive rock (sometimes shortened to prog or prog rock) is a subgenre of rock music which arose in the mid-to-late 1960s, reached the peak of its popularity in the 1970s, and has continued as a form of popular music to this day. It is commonly associated with symphonic rock and art rock, although the term progressive rock in today's usage often embraces a significantly wider spectrum of music than these styles.

Progressive rock acts often combine elements of jazz and classical music, folk and world music influences with rock formats, often rejecting specific genre norms, and instead utilising relatively uncommon musical structures and ideas. As such, it can be seen as an approach to songwriting as well as a genre of its own.

The most important line in the definition is about it's approach to songwriting. I had always felt that prog rock had theatrical elements dervived from fantasy literature. They sounded more like narratives than songs to me. The first time I realized that I was listening to prog rock was when I was blasting Rush's Tom Sawyer from my beautiful 93' Mercury Sable. I originally thought this song was about a futuristic Tom Sawyer, which I believe it is; however after reading Klosterman I decided that the elements of the song took place in a land from long ago that never was. (Stay with me)

This very concept has fascinated me for about the past 3 weeks. I have never been a fan of fantasy literature. I only read the Hobbit because there was a test on it when I got back from summer break. I have decided that my fascination with song lyrics and meanings has led me to this fascination. A completely nonexistent world can be created and it's story can be told through music that's described as: often rejecting specific genre norms, and instead utilising relatively uncommon musical structures and ideas. BRILLIANT.

Klosterman's idea of this music being from a time and place that never happened is going to be my filler. I am going to use this idea to fill my time wasting internet gap. I have decided the submerse myself into the definition of prog rock.

I have been listening to David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars on repeat while smoking grass and playing Nintendo Wii since the inception of 2007. This is a concept album, which tells the story of an alien who comes to Earth to save it through rock and roll because it is apparently going to end in five years. Ziggy comes to Earth and is consumed by the lavish rock and roll lifestyle, which eventually leads to his death. He was killed by the ideals that he was going to save us from.

This album and it's story have become a part of me. I can see the story as the music plays. Its sweeping and georgeous and I recommend it to anyone that has ears. It isn't the grass either…it's Ziggy.

The question that has haunted me since my recent prog rock/Bowie obsession is this: Can Ziggy Stardust be labeled as prog rock?

Well it sure as hell has a narrative tone that deals with the unknown; however it doesn't contain uncommon musical structures. It contains the narrative elements of prog rock without the musical style. It only takes 11 songs to tell a story that can be played over and over again in your head for the rest of your life. Prog rock contains ideas of a non-existent world created by the artist that are left for you to create.

So I have decided that Ziggy Stardust is a concept album with prog elements. I have also decided that it doesn't matter. Does it really matter what genre of music I am listening too? Should I be concerned with what it has been labeled? Of course not because all art sould be consumed with and individualist approach as opposed to being an idealist. Many people would call me an fool for labeling Ziggy Stardust as a prog rock album. Celebrated rock journalists would call me an amateur, which I am.

Those people are the idealists.