Monthly Archives: January 2013

There’s a Yes Music podcast! (And it’s great)

Few people know what progressive rock music is, but if you’re new to the genre or a diehard prog rock fanatic, the Yes Music podcast is the place to go.

Subtitled “One fan’s exploration of the greatest progressive rock band of all time”, Kevin Mulryne and his Yes Music podcast delves into the band Yes, their 40+ years of producing landmark albums and makes for a pleasant end to a busy week.

Tales from Topographic Oceans - Roger Dean cover art masterpiece.Tales from Topographic Oceans — Yes would often rely on artist Roger Dean to create the scenery Yes’ music would invoke.

Yes for the uninitiated

Who are Yes and why should we tune into a podcast about them? Quite simply, they are a band of uber-musicians that have rarely followed trends and in the process produced some of the most elaborately beautiful compositions in the history of music.

That sounds like a big call — I mean, there is an awful lot of music produced throughout human history. I like to think that if the great composers of the past were around in the 20th century, they would have ended up being in bands like Yes.

For example, head over to the interweb, fire up Spotify and listen to the ethereal 18 minute Close to the Edge track on the album of the same name. I challenge anyone to find a more dazzling and effecting composition from a rock band. Don’t stop there, keep the album playing and take in the beautiful And You And I — a long time staple in the Yes setlist and a stunning piece in its own right.

Yes, like the prog rock genre they helped pioneer, defy an off the shelf categorisation. Indeed, progressive music is characterised by exceptional musicianship and more elaborate,  often unpredictable arrangements. This fact by itself is what makes the genre so intriguing — you can never predict how one album will sound from an artist’s previous release.

This is certainly true of Yes. In a span from 1971-1980, Yes produced what purists would call “classic Yes”, redefining the genre and blazing the trail for generations of musicians  — not just progressive rockers. However, the procession of albums made critics and fans of the band scratch their heads; what ere Yes going to next?? This evident in the fact that no one saw the band producing a record like 1974’s Tales from Topographic Oceans — a double LP comprised of four 20 minute pieces.

 A grand concept

Yes is more of a grander, transcendent concept rather than any one collection of musicians. The band has had so many lineup changes throughout the decades that it is sometimes hard to keep track of, but the classic lineup (and most enduring) would be:

  • Jon Anderson — vocals and arguably the single most important factor in the Yes soundscape
  • Chris Squire — co-founder of the group with Jon Anderson
  • Steve Howe — probably the most underrated guitarist ever
  • Rick Wakeman — an extraordinarily talented keyboard player and prolific composer
  • Alan White — took the reins admirably after Bill Bruford left the band in 1972.

The band underwent its most dramatic change in the 1980s with the introduction of now film score composer Trevor Rabin, producing probably their most well-known hit Owner of a Lonely Heart
on the stadium rock sounding 90125 album.

About the Yes Music Podcast

Having the exciting proposition of spending some iTunes vouchers that I got for Christmas, I plugged “Yes” in the search bar and amongst the enormous back catalogue, the search returned a podcast.

“A Yes Music Podcast,” I exclaimed! Intrigued I had to give it a listen and impressed I was. The host, Kevin Mulryne, is based in the West Midlands region of the UK (Stratford-upon-Avon), which lends a degree of street cred for me as it is hard to imagine a podcast dedicated to Yes without a soothing British accent.

So the podcast is an excellent introduction for people looking to find out about Yes and their extensive back catalogue. Kevin’s take on the 1996 Yes double album Keys to Ascension was a sufficient sales pitch for me and I dashed off at once to purchase it via the iTunes store.

Kevin’s passion is undeniable and his descriptions of Yes songs often evoke powerful emotions for me, a fan who shares that passion and knows exactly what Kevin means when he says “and that my friends is a Yes champagne moment”.

If you’re a Yes fan, or curious as to why there are numerous fans claiming that Yes music is in class of its own, listen to Kevin’s spellbinding exploration into the greatest progressive rock band of all time. There is no better Yes resource around.

Get off the new year’s resolution merry-go-round

It’s 5 days into the new year and we’re already tempted to cave in on our newly formed, I’m really gonna do this resolutions. Before you get sucked back into the vortex of bad habits, I’ve got a few ideas that might help.

This year, I only have two resolutions — to adopt two very simple principles that will open up the world of possibility in everything else I want to achieve this year. Let’s call these meta-resolutions.

After much failure and frustration in my own life, I realised the problem is busy-ness. In other words, I was doing stuff but ultimately progressing very slowly. This was true in my career, playing the guitar and finances.

The meta-resolutions in a nutshell:

  • Cut your options down — focus on a few things
  • Quit looking for the magic bullet

Too many options

Realise that too many things — be they books, websites, audio and video material or whatever — is ultimately a distraction. To make progress, cut your options down to a few resources, and focus on reinforcing the fundamentals of what you’re trying to learn/achieve.

This is the root meaning of the word “decision” — literally to cut off. The more “stuff” the more time you’ll spend sifting through it rather than actually learning.

Psychological research has shown clearly that it is not always a good idea for a company to expand its product line. There comes a point too many options makes it hard for the consumer to make that snap decision in the store, therefore the decision can be delayed or even completely withdrawn.

Cut to the chase

  1. Find out what the fundamentals are: the 20% you can focus on critical content — those actions that will result in 80% of successful results. (This takes a bit of upfront research).
  2. Take everything you have on the subject you’re wanting to learn and choose the top 3. These resources will cover off all your critical content and action steps.
  3. Focus on these resources exclusively.

It may not be necessary to focus on everything a particular resource has to offer — in fact you can cull even further by finding the absolute essential chapters and action points that will contribute the most to your progress.

Then stop searching for more. If something good comes up, great, but once you’ve decided what is most important, make sure you focus most of your time on that. Stay on the path!

There is no magic bullet

It is human nature to look for the one thing that will change the game but this kind of thinking is illusory. The Next Big Thing (NBT) can at best give you a new idea or approach but the problem  remains: you still need to take action.

Ultimately, the search for the NBT is fruitless because (a) it doesn’t exist, and (b) all you’re really doing is delaying action (and most probably using the search as an excuse for why you’re not succeeding).

The neediness cycle
You see, another thing humans are great at is doing a bunch of stuff that makes us feel better but ultimately is not leading to our goals at all. Once in place, this self-fulfilling failure cycle doesn’t stop. As long as you continue to think there is something better, the more you’ll fall into trap of seeking. and reinforcing that failure cycle. This distracts from what you should be doing which is using what you have and extracting as much juice out of it as you can.Positive momentum
By focusing on the fundamentals right now (which you can usually find in one or two good resources) you create a foundation for success as well as the habits of success in your chosen area. Quit searching for more and start using what you have.

The perfect consumer
Marketers love people in the neediness cycle, in fact they actively try to amplify that neediness. It seems to work.

Central to the chase for the NBT is a scarcity mentality. People that exhibit this form of neediness are essentially saying “what I have isn’t good enough, I need something else”. As mentioned earlier, this insecurity is the symptom of something that “more stuff” cannot fix.

If you’ve seen the TV show Hoarders knows the last point too well, but we all do hoard to a certain extent.

The solution: Use what you have

Whatever you want to do, chances are there are tonnes of material and experience you can draw inspiration and knowledge from. The basics are always present and while approaches vary in scope and effectiveness, the next ebook, next course, next book, next new way is mostly a marketing gimmick and definitely a distraction from what you should be doing now.
So use what you have. It is (often) enough and when you’re in the position to say you’ve conquered your present resources, then you can expand your knowledge.