I cannot adequately tell you how I feel right now. My insides are being roiled by a gigantic spoon.
Chris Squire, bass player, co-founder of in my estimate one of the greatest musical groups to ever grace a stage, has died.
A brief report of the particulars can be read here.
I have been listening to, following, collecting, and appreciating YES since I first heard them late one night on my first stereo, a track being played as representative of an “underappreciated” band. That status did not last long. A year or two later, they were a major force in what has been called Progressive Rock, a label with some degree of oxymoronicalness in that, not a decade before their advent, all rock was progressive.
Rather it was transgressive and altered the landscape of popular music. By the time YES came along, divisions, subdivisions, turf wars of various arcane dimensions had become part and parcel of the scene, and there were those who found YES and others like them a transgression to some presumed “purity” of rock music that seemed to require simplistic chord progressions, banal lyrics, and sub par instrumental prowess. As Tom Petty once said, “Well, it was never supposed to be good.”
Well, I and many of my friends and millions of others, across generations, thought that was bullshit, and embraced their deep musicality, classical influences, and superb craftsmanship. They were a revelation of what could be done with four instruments and a superior compositional approach and as far as I’m concerned, Punk, which began as an intentional repudiation of actual musical ability, was a desecration of the possibilities in the form.
Chris Squire and Jon Anderson met and created a group that has since become an institution, with many alumni, that challenged the tendency of rock to feed a lowest-common-denominator machine. Nothing they did was common, expected, or dull. Some of it failed, most of it elevated the form, and all of it filled my life with magic.
The ache felt by many at the loss of George Harrison is the ache I now feel at the loss of Chris Squire. He was brilliant.
There may be more later, but for now, here is an old piece I wrote about YES.