I'm reading YES IS THE ANSWER ... AND OTHER PROG ROCK TALES (2013), a collection of 21 essays about progressive rock, edited by Marc Weingarten and Tyson Cornell.
And it's freaking HILARIOUS.
Because these writers UNDERSTAND. They know what a great, gorgeous, hilarious, nonsensical Guilty Pleasure prog was, and they all love it.
Just from a quick browse, I've already found several sections of this book that guarantee it will never leave the house. So far, I think it's the best book on music I've read in YEARS.
Because they are all so affectionate about prog, the writers are willing to admit its many flaws right up-front -- pretension, horrible lyrics, self indulgence, showing off, long-windedness, you know the list. And they admit that's part of what attracted them.
The essays are so direct, down-to-earth, open and honest -- that they make me laugh like a loon. This could happen to you too.
So far, I've loved Wesley Stace on Canterbury bands and lame lyrics (and why those same lyrics are also great), Matthew Specktor on the many wonderfulnesses of Yes, Jeff Gordinier on how Styx made him give up on progressive rock, Peter Case on the attractions of the Incredible String Band, Marc Weingarten's hilariously honest and direct introduction, and more. Rick Moody trying to defend Emerson, Lake and Palmer will have you laughing with the first sentence.
This book also tells me some things I need to investigate. Like that Gryphon has ANOTHER album out there somewhere: PAWN TO GRYPHON FOUR ... ? Really?! What??!! Have to confirm this....
It also points out some stuff I clearly missed while listening to Soft Machine, Hatfield and the North, National Health, Matching Mole, Robert Wyatt and others. And makes me wonder what ELSE I missed while I was allegedly listening closely.
If you're not a Prog fan this probably won't work for you. Or maybe it WILL if you need some good laughs. And there's nothing wrong with that.
I'll be back eventually with more about this. Meanwhile, there must be a cheap second-hand copy you can find somewhere. It'll be worth it....