Tuesday, 16 August 2011

I get up, I get down

People aren't going to be queuing up to ask me for a lift over the next few weeks. To be honest, I'm not normally surrounded by would-be passengers, but for the time being my motoring solitude is even more guaranteed than usual. And I blame Danny Baker.

Yesterday evening, I'd finished all the work I was due to do and was about to leave the office. I was off the clock and there were few colleagues around. I had a quick look at Twitter before departing. (Before you ask, it's @fatboyfat. Thank you). I give you this detail: 1) to give you some narrative to the story, 2) to build some dramatic tension, and 3) so that anyone from work reading this doesn't think I was dossing about on social networks when I was supposed to be working.

One of the people I follow is the fore-mentioned writer, journalist and radio presenter. And he had tweeted the following set of seemingly random words:
@prodnose: Yesterday a morning came, a smile upon your face. Caesar's palace, morning glory, silly human race, If the summer changed to Winter...
As I say, for most people - and I suspect that includes about 99% of you reading this - this just seems like the deranged rantings of someone with only a passing relationship to sanity. To an extent, you might be correct. But for me, and a very small group of others, it completed a mental circuit. For these aren't just words. They're lyrics.

"Yours Is No Disgrace" is a song by Yes, from their cryptically entitled 1971 album, The Yes Album. At a mere seven minutes long, I like to think of it as one of their more accessible, radio-friendly tunes. The sort of thing you could whistle to yourself while performing menial tasks involving livestock, perhaps. The snippet shown above is actually quite lucid. It goes on to include lines such as "Battleships confide in me and tell me where you are, Shining, flying, purple wolfhound, tell me where you are."

There was a whole lot of inhalation going down in '71.

For those of you who haven't yet closed their browser in disgust, I can admit this; my name is Phil and I am a bit of a Yes fan. I know. More to be pitied than anything else, I suppose. Admitting a liking for this is right up there with having a passion for Morris dancing, steam traction engines or arcane practices involving latex. I couldn't care less.

So, as I read those words yesterday evening, I thought to myself: "It would be quite nice to have this on in the car going home." Now I've come out to you, you're assuming I've got it really bad and cart a whole load of progressive rock CDs around with me. But you'd be wrong. That way lies foolishness. And as I walked to my car I realised that my only hope was the very very  old and crotchety iPod I keep in my glove box.

This was my first iPod, bought many years ago when we were all still suitably impressed by the concept. A white brick, with a click wheel  and monochrome LCD screen. It's not my main iPod. ("Ooh, look at him with his two iPods," I hear you say). It has sat in my car, unused, for ages. It's endured the freezing cold of winter, the stifling heat of what passes for summer. My understanding of technology was enough to convince me that it was going to be, to coin a term, buggered. 

But no! I connected the leads with trembling fingers and it worked straight away. There I was, marvelling at the mighty 20gb of really dodgy music I possess. Time to do some rediscovering.

Last night we had "Yours Is No Disgrace" at full volume, followed by "Awaken" - 20-odd magnificent minutes of, well, magnificent oddness. I got goosebumps at the end of that one, and I suspect there are about 12 people on the planet that would understand. This morning we had the Close to the Edge album (from which we also get the title of this post).  I have found that one track can get me most of the way along my 20-mile commute. Value for money, you see.

Then this evening we got "The Gates of Delirium" and "Sound Chaser" from Relayer. These tracks are close to unlistenable, you might say, were you to encounter them on a dark night. There appears to be hand-to-hand combat going on in the first track, whilst the bassist, drummer and guitarist seem to be having a heated argument in a locked wardrobe throughout the latter. It's dense, borderline impenetrable.

It's bloody marvellous. But until I get bored, you probably wouldn't want to be a hitch-hiker.

It seems I have contrary tastes. I like things that others absolutely hate, like sweaty Stilton, peaty whisky and marmite. To this list we must add very strange - and deeply unfashionable - music.

Good. Let's hear it for weirdness.

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