Friday, February 18, 2011

Music Related Experiences

I knew I wasn't going to rush to my computer to review the Radiohead album for you when you could very well go listen to it yourself and form your own opinions. However, I did write a story for you about what this early surprise Radiohead release made me think of today. My college Prog Rock class. The album art alone makes it worth skimming.

One year I took a Progressive Rock class to fill up my last elective in college. I'd heard not such great things about the teacher who was a giant Norwegian of a man, but it was a class about music so I figured I could handle it. He was very close to being considered an albino and he was known around campus as Professor Neanderthal. He regularly taught anthropology or some sort of -ology, but he taught this specific Prog Rock class for kicks cause he freakin' loved prog rock so damn much. Turned out, unsurprisingly, he was a little on the strange side and really only ever listened to about 6 artists total since he turned 15. These bands were Emerson Lake & Palmer, King Crimson, Yes, Genesis (obviously just the stuff before the 80s), The Beatles, and get this, his 6th most listened to band was Radiohead. The man was obsessed with the "anomoly that was OK Computer" as he called it. It was the only modern band that meant anything to him since the 70s. Throughout the course the class had brought up other bands outside this realm in discussions, plenty of obvious ones too, but he knew of NOTHING outside of Prog rock, 70s rock, or Radiohead, it was incredible. It became a game for the class to find out how little he knew about music outside of his burning obsession. I once asked him if he was familiar with "indie rock" and he said "I've read about it in Rolling Stone but I don't know anything about it."

We spent two whole weeks of a ten week course studying the elements that made up prog rock album art. Powerpoint after powerpoint dissecting album art in excruciating detail is not as fun as it sounds after the first two hours, no matter how stoned you are. Somedays he would bring in his own vinyl collection but we weren't allowed to touch it or pass it around, just look from a distance. However, I am glad I can pull a King Crimson reference out of nowhere when needed. And I can't believe that a keyboardist has never come close to being as insane as Keith Emerson doing flips with his baby grand piano while continuing to play the piano. Or the time he continually stabbed his hammond organ with knifes during a concert. WHY HAS NOBODY COME CLOSE TO THIS LEVEL?

He also made us copy 8 C.D.s worth of prog rock onto our computers. Very little of the ten hours of music still exists on my computer today, but one of the few survivors was Traffic's song "Hole in My Shoe" whose lyrics became my "happy place". Seriously, if you are having a bad day just imagine you are in this song, it works. I've been looking for a giant albatross ever since the first time I heard this.
"I climbed on the back of a giant albatross

Which flew through a crack in the cloud
To a place where happiness reigned all year round
                                                    And music played ever so loudly."

Anyway, the class was a wash. Our final project was to write a ten page paper on a modern band and say how they were influenced by Prog Rock. It was the year Mars Volta was big so half the class wrote about that. I made up a band called "Lizards Revenge", layered, chopped, and staggered 12 indie rock songs on top of another resulting in a heinous 18 minute song. It sounded terrible with a few shining moments of utter cacophony. I burned it onto a disc and handed it in with my ten bullshit pages and aced the class. Talking about it kind of makes me miss college.
I'm telling you all this because today's surprise early release of Radiohead's "The King of Limbs" is probably making Professor Neanderthall shit his pants. First off, he can finally listen to some new music. Second of all, breaking all the rules is obviously a derivative of Prog Rock influences, which he is probably very excited to point out. Thirdly, I've finally come around to appreciating the things I learned in that class even if it did nearly ruin my appetite for  The Beach Boys and The Beatles due to talking/playing it to death. Luckily I still love both bands, it just took some time to recover. This class seemed so absurd at the time but today I finally feel happy to have been a part of it. I still have yet to use a geometry theorem or proof, but here I am rambling on about Prog Rock. Funny how that happens. I just wish I could be in Professor Neanderthals class today as he goes nuts over every little intricacy of The King of Limbs for two whole hours. Today is for you Professor N! Long live nearly useless, yet expensive, college classes.

Maybe next time I'll tell you about how I met my college boyfriend in Movement Improv, where we rolled around on the floor to the sounds of Enya for a grade. Now go analyze these album covers for the next ten weeks. And if you made it to the end here is that magical Traffic song.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...