As I recall, the saying goes that while I may be old, at least I got to see all the cool bands. I suppose that forty years hence the tender teens of today will be muttering about how current bands are an awful atrocious abomination, next fondly playing their cherished golden oldie Arcade Fire or Paramore tunes. Being the curmudgeonry conservative I am, I fearlessly state that no, it’s not because I’m too old; the Cheez-Wiz preprogrammed preprocessed recipe pablum ear candy slime being passed off as music today really does suck. Prayerfully one day you’ll catch on, kids, demanding your generation start creating authentic music or you’re tossing them aside in favor of the real thing. For the latter, start here.
Although totally unaware of it at the time, disco notwithstanding I was blessed spending my teen years in the 70s, when in order to make music people had to actually sing and play instruments and all that other silly stuff. I was extremely fortunate in that my high school music department was filled with programs and musicians on a collegiate and higher level. I played a small part in the program, singing fairly well in various choirs, playing a decent bass in the school jazz band, and contributing a very mediocre viola in the orchestra. As the soundtrack to our high school years said, two out of three ain’t bad.
I, and my local compatriots, luxuriated in a sea of top-flight local musicians in multiple genres. We were proud of the bands that we were in, and even the bands that we weren’t in. Names totally unknown outside of our little town of Livermore, but to those of us who knew better they were giants.
The past twists and turns and fades in our mind’s theater over the decades; times that at the time seems like the end of the world are now viewed through soft focus and a fond fuzziness. Regrettably, for most of the music and bands we grew up with, recollections are all we have. Hopefully there are a few not totally tattered cassettes out there somewhere that someone will dig up and share with us. But, for the most part, all we have are memories.
One of the local bands we revered back in the day was a progressive rock ensemble named Tykus. Led by the brothers Jim and Roger Liptak, Roger on guitar and Jim, a true keyboard master who was legitimately on the level of a Keith Emerson or Rick Wakeman, Tykus in a just world would have conquered said world. However, as I trust you’ve learned by now the world isn’t just, and they didn’t.
A few days ago, I saw a note by one of the members of one of the bands from back in the day, commenting how he had been gifted with a Tykus CD. It wasn’t for sale; strictly a gift for family and friends.
Uh … TYKUS CD?!!
Thus, inquiries were made, connections were established, and this past Tuesday Tykus’ bassist graciously gave me a copy of the CD.
As noted, memories can and often do skewer reality. Thus, I was actually hesitant to listen to the CD. Would it live up to all I had been told, and all I remembered, of this mighty band?
The answer was no.
It blew away all memories and expectations as far as the east is from the west.
Tykus wasn’t good. They weren’t great. They were at minimum three levels beyond that. Tykus truly was the equal of progressive rock giants such as Emerson Lake & Palmer, Yes, and Kansas. The compositions, the singing, the playing – all were, and are, utterly brilliant. I can’t stop listening to this CD. I will never stop listening to this CD. It has gained immediate entry to the hall of the greats; the music I will constantly refer to until I’m listening to the heavenly choir. And no, it’s not just nostalgia talking. Tykus was that good.
I pray for today’s teenagers. No, not solely that they get the chance to hear real music in their lifetime made by their peers. I pray that forty years from now their memories of today will be filled with music and the bands, the friends, and the fun times that should permeate the teen years. I pray that the greatest angst they will have to suffer is something similar to what I felt when I couldn’t get a date to the senior prom, not having to dive for cover every time there’s a loud sound fearing it’s a gun and not some joker with a firecracker.
It’s bad enough kids these days don’t get to know real music.
It’s far worse they aren’t able to enjoy without fear what they do have.
Today’s kids deserve the chance to have a Tykus of their own.