I want to rattle a few cages. I want to wake some people from their mundane ordinary existences and make them think about the world around them. When most people consider anti-authoritarian attitudes in music, they automatically think of Punk. Any regular to this blog will quickly realize that I do not consider Punk rebellious. In fact, to my eye, Punk is the soundtrack of conformity. This may be a shock to anyone who grew up during the late-70s and saw the rise of Punk's status as the flag for fighting the machine. However, in my case, growing up in the 90s meant that Punk was already well established and accepted as mainstream. It was very visible in the media and was easily marketed by large corporations to any young person looking for a soundtrack to break things. You may be able to sympathize then when I claim that, to me, Punk was the machine. This probably has something to do with why I turned to Progressive Rock.
Prog, to me, was everything that wasn't mainstream. It was music fuelled by creativity and imagination. Growing up in the education system in Ontario, Canada in the 90s, being creative and imaginative was not necessarily something that was encouraged. Conformity was expected by all, teachers and peers. If you did something different, you were shunned and punished. It seemed all so constraining. This is why, in my teens, I spent the vast majority of my spare time wandering between used vinyl record shops in downtown Toronto. In the very earliest years of the 2000s Vinyl had yet to begin its resurgence. I quickly found a calling in the experimental albums of the early 70s. This magical music from another era was everything that mainstream music of the time was not. The fantastical cover art, from the screaming twisted face on In The Court Of The Crimson King to the elaborate imagination of the paintings by Roger Dean, seemed like something that would never be allowed by the reality-show obsessed culture that ruled the day. I connected with the sprawling side-long epics. The three-minute pop-songs heard on the radio simply left me cold.
I was fairly known in high school for trumpeting the virtues of Progressive Rock. I couldn't understand the criticisms that were associated with the genre. How could a form of music that was built upon a foundation of creativity be brushed off as pretentious wanking? What was wrong with a musician taking time to learn how to get the most out of their instruments so that they could express themselves in a way that the three-chord punks really could not? Isn't art all about self expression? Isn't art about creativity and imagination? Isn't trying new things what art is all about? Isn't music considered art? Throughout my childhood, you would be hard pressed to think of music as anything more than a formulaic product meant to sell plastic discs.
While the notion of Progressive Rock as rebellion may be a difficult one to fathom, please consider my example as to why I believe there is nothing more rebellious. As our culture seemingly continues its drop into the netherworld of stupidity, put up some resistance and join me on my crusade to preserve my creative mind. Instead of watching the latest mind-raping insult to your intelligence on TV tonight, pull out your copy of Relayer instead and put your mind to work conjuring up the images that are the product of the lush music and epic artwork. When everyone else in society insists on being dumb, what could be more rebellious than thinking?