This is purely personal pique on my part, but in the recent round of nominations for the rock’n’roll hall of fame, YES was one of the bands being put forward. I would like to be able to say “much to my surprise” they didn’t make it. But I’m not surprised, just disappointed.
Which is silly, because I could not care less about the hall of fame. I know what I like, a lot of it was at one time on the fringes of mainstream, things I choose now still tend to be under-the-radar kinds of things (though much less rock than in previous decades), and I still have my loyalties. To be sure, there are bands I kind of listen to now, having at one time been massively devoted to (for a week or a year), and wonder what I found so wonderful about them.
But there are a handful I never tire of, especially not the work done in their heyday. And YES is one of them. I fell in love with that sound four bars into the first song I ever heard of theirs and even though they’d recorded some duds, made a couple of records of incomprehensibly bombastic ambiance, by and large, overall, I still love them and when they release a new album I buy it, unheard. Even in their worst, I find things of transcendent beauty scattered throughout.
I’ve written about them before, most notably here , and I don’t really have anything new to say.
Except that I found, here and there, some commentary on the intraweebs concerning their nomination that was mean-spirited and depressing. I thought, are we still doing that after over four decades?
KISS made it. Good for them. They worked hard, they have a large fan base. I can’t stand them myself, but it’s a big world, room enough for everyone. If I wanted to, I’m sure I could get downright eloquent about how I feel that sort of music did nothing but lower the general I.Q. and bring down the standards of music. But it wouldn’t be just about KISS and it wouldn’t be just about certain strains of rock music.
But YES seemed to have made enemies back in the day, people who believe any attempt at elevating the genre above anything more than the old 3-chords-and-a-bridge formula was somehow a betrayal of “authenticity.” People who turned to rock because they despised classical (or more likely because they didn’t “get” classical) and not only tore at the reputations of YES but at the very idea of progressive rock as a movement. It doesn’t make sense to me, but…
But music is too personal for the kind of total condemnations or complete annointments it often elicits. I love YES but I also love Santana. Not only that, but I’m inordinately fond of Mozart, Schubert, and Howard Hanson. Not only that, but I’m a devotee of Miles Davis, Chick Corea, Joe Pass. I love Vangelis as well as Jimi Hendrix, and Joe Satriani is to my ear as much a virtuoso as McCoy Tyner or Immanuel Ax.
Such are the inductees into my own hall of fame, of which YES has been an honored member since 1970.
Thank you for indulging me in a brief declaration of personal taste.