When it’s not Exclusive Anymore

Jerry Lucky Commentary April 2013

Copyright Jerry Lucky © 2013 All Rights Reserved


We’ve all heard the phrase – “Familiarity breeds contempt.” It’s a phrase that means the more your know someone or something, the more you see their faults and often times lose respect. Sometimes I wonder if that’s the problem with music critics? The more they know about the genre the quicker they are to simply find fault with it.


The gist of this commentary was stimulated by an email I received from a longtime reader of my scribbling, who signs off her email…(Old proghead from Montreal)…well Lise thanks for the inspiration.


I must say we live in interesting times. And in truth I never thought I’d see the day where progressive rock or Prog as it’s more often called today would become so much more of the general fabric of contemporary music.


It seems that enough time has transpired that the new breed of musician hardly remembers the time when progressive rock ruled. For them it is a distant historical benchmark read about in books much like the music of the classical masters. And yet the influences are still present because as a musical document the recorded results are with us on vinyl, CD and I dare say even on some cassettes somewhere. So like any good treasure, it’s hunted by some, casually explored by others, and for a growing number accidentally discovered in a friend or parents collection of stuff.


Once discovered it carries no baggage with today’s musical types. It is simply music of a distant era, a different type that still manages to arouse both excitement and confusion. In the end the raw elements of what made prog different in the late sixties and seventies are distilled through more modern ears. Ears that have been raised on other music, raised on different styles, nurtured on music that is totally removed from the complexities of prog. These ears know not of the disparaging comments written oh so long ago or the turn-coat attitude of so many within the music industry. Instead they only hear the music: in all its glory.


The music papers or magazines these new ears read tend to write about “prog of the past” in a different way since these writers are younger and they too rarely bring baggage with them. Instead the music is one of discovery for them too. As a result their writings and references simply add positively to the new musician’s vocabulary. Both the writer and the musician simply enjoy the results of artists pushing the musical envelope.


So who is it that is disparaging the old ways, who is it that continues to harbor mean spirited words for the progressive rock genre. Sadly it is the older members of the clan. These seemingly curmudgeon like benefactors of the old ways have grown too familiar with the music to appreciate its beauty. They no longer hear the majesty but instead look to complain about its sameness or its lack of ingenuity. These wizened old fools have become too familiar with the prog genre and all they see are the musical faults that for them are littered about. In the end they’ve fallen out of love with the genre they once cherished and placed on a high pedestal. Now the object of their passion is nothing more than something to be criticized and ridiculed.


Ah, but for the young, the past doesn’t carry such a heavy burden. For them the sounds of Prog are fresh, alive and exciting, something to be explored in yet new ways. They are ideas to be incorporated into new configurations of instruments, writing and arranging. There is no longer a sense of decay but only of opportunity. Strangely, just as it was oh so long ago.


I would suggest it is challenging if not entirely impossible to retain complete and total objectivity forever. At some point a person repeatedly exposed to a never ending flow of music, food or movies will cave to the endless onslaught of ideas. Exposed to so much they will most likely then lead a life of fooling those around them, trying to convince others that they still see and hear things objectively when in fact they’ve retreated into their own familiar cocoon, desensitized and needing the ever more outlandish or intensive to draw any form of positive response. It’s a sad way to go.


Familiarity does indeed breed contempt. At least that’s what I think.


Jerry Lucky