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Reasons why Yes music has endured and will continue – 284

Yes Music PodcastProduced by Preston Frazier, David Gordon, Bill Govier, Wayne Hall and Michel Arsenault.

As it’s half term holiday in the UK this week, I haven’t been able to add all the ‘bells and whistles’ such as news and in-depth analysis to this episode but there was time to speak to bass maestro, Miguel Falcao, and Mark about Yes music and why it endures. Mark also reviews another Flash album – ‘Out of Our Hands’. Back to normal next week I hope!

  • What is it about Yes music which means it has lasted for almost 50 years?
  • What will make it endure further?
  • What makes Yes music special?

Listen to the episode then let us know what you think!

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Theme music

The music I use is the last movement of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite. This has been used as introduction music at many Yes concerts. My theme music is not take from a live concert – I put it together from the following two creative commons sources: thanvannispen and

11 replies on “Reasons why Yes music has endured and will continue – 284”

Thanks for the interesting discussion. I’m going to out on a limb here and say that Yes and Yes music will not survive a whole lot longer. I don’t think enough young people are into the band that they will survive. I teach a college course on the Beatles every year and students flock to it – really. If I did a course on progressive rock I could not have enough students to actually offer the course. My observation from being at concerts is that the vast majority of Yes fans are old. I have been listening to Yes since 1972. My son likes it but never chooses to put it on himself. He went with me once, really enjoyed it but that’s it. My son in law, who is going with me this summer, really enjoys it too but it is merely one of many musics that he enjoys. He will not pass it on to his kids.

Don’t get me wrong – I have loved Yes’ music for a long time. My trip to see them this summer will be my 8th concert.

I’m not suggesting that the music is not worth passing down, I’m just saying that with all the options out there, once this generation of fans passes the ability of the future Yes to make a living might all but evaporate. Fifty years is a long time for a band to survive but I’m just not convinced that Yes is making enough new fans to keep going.

Hey Bob I have to agree with you. I had a fascinating conversation with a 17-year-old young man The other day. I noticed he had a Beatles T-shirt on so I struck up a conversation with him regarding music that he enjoyed listening to. It turns out he was as much a music nerd as I was when I was 17 back in 1980. It was an interesting conversation, I enjoyed listening to him because I was amazed at how much of the old rock music he knew about and still listened to, and I think he enjoyed talking to me because I was like an old guy who was there ‘in the day’. One of the topics we brought up was: what rock music during the classic era did we think would survive into the future? He had an interesting observation. He told me a lot of his friends knew about the Beatles and Led Zeppelin and he felt of all the music acts back then those two had the best chance of surviving into the future cultural memory. We talked about what reasons that may be and we bounced some ideas off each other and we both come to the conclusion that 1) they originated their genres 2) they were very good at what they did and 3) and most importantly these bands did not overstay their welcome. The fact that both bands existed for only about 10 years, they released a series of very good albums, then broke up and never got together again sealed their legacy. We both thought of several musical acts from the 1960s that we both agreed we’re likely remembered only because the members died very young (i.e. The Doors) and we thought of several more acts that would likely be legends if they had only quit while they were ahead (i.e. Metallica).

As much as I love Yes and so many other of the great musicians that I grew up with, I think they are doomed to be forgotten by future generations. I think people who compare their legacies to composers like Beethoven are kidding themselves. I remember vocal groups who were popular in the 1950s but were still touring and performing when I was a teenager in the 1970s. My parents were into them and wanted to go see them but I just thought they were weird creepy old people trying to act young. And most of those musicians were only in their 40s and 50s at the time! I am sorry but Younger generations are not interested in watching 70-year-old rock musicians perform. I think Yes could have been true musical legends with an enduring legacy, but for that to happen they should’ve broken up in 1978.

By the way I was amazed at that kids knowledge of 1970s rock music. But he’d never heard of Yes.

Thanks Rosemary – fascinating insights. The advantage over us that the younger generations have now and will have in the future is the instant access to an almost complete library of instantly-available music from every age. My children (21, 18 and 11yrs) are adept at finding everything they want to investigate online – and if it’s music, then they normally head for YouTube (which is somewhat counter-intuitive!) All of Yes’ output is there to be discovered but so is everything else which makes it less certain our favourite music will survive, I suppose. Who will be the champions for Yes in the future? Who will point younger people to it when we are gone? I do have to say that there is a sub-set of young people who have always found and then become passionate about Yes music and that’s the music students. Yes music seems to appeal to those who are studying music – classical or rock and maybe there’s a chance that it will survive through these kinds of groups? I hope so.

Thanks, Bob. I agree that there is such a lot of music easily available to young people via technology that it’s going to become very difficult to preserve what we think is best. All we can do for the moment is to keep the flame burning I suppose!

Great episode and a fascinating topic.

While the generations of people currently in their 40s, 50s and 60s who were imprinted by the band at impressionable ages are still alive then the music will live. Some of those people will pass it down / along to younger listeners (in the same way that there are still people listening to Mingus, Miles, Ellington and Coltrane) so there will be some kind of legacy that persists but there will also inevitably be a drift into obscurity for a generation or two while the wheels of musical fashion turn and turn again.

Some of the greatest composers in musical history have slipped out of fashion and out of the repertoire for periods of time. The 20th century Early Music movement and the revival of the music of Monteverdi in particular is a prime case. Truly great music endured centuries of obscurity though now it is hard to believe there was a time when this music wasn’t a staple of classical radio programming. It is even harder to believe that Mahler’s symphonies were not taken particularly seriously by most conductors, orchestras and concert programmers until well into the 1960s.

A lot of this is entirely unpredictable. It is about technology, about the social conditions of a particular moment in history and about to what use the people of the future can put the music of the past. Exactly like the Early Music movement it may be about a handful of enthusiasts and academics rediscovering the virtues of the music and insisting on an authentic performance practice that includes recreating the sets and the sole use of original instruments etc etc.

In the short to medium term it is likely that the progressive rock music that will stand the greatest chance of cultural survival in the short term will be the main sequence of Floyd records from Meddle to The Wall and the entire oeuvre of Robert Fripp. The former because their “quiet desperation” music is so on point as a soundtrack to this alienated era. The later because it is so much easier for critics to follow the path of one Great Man in music history and build a theory and story around it. Bands with long and complicated / messy histories tend to be harder to contain and explain. Too many contradictory elements.

If Yes had split up after Tormato and never returned then they would probably be in that pantheon too. Ditto Genesis for the music up to and including Seconds Out. As it is their histories are too tainted by music prompted by commercial imperatives and with (frankly) too little musical development. Nothing wrong with that, plenty of great music has been made because of a burning desire to make money, but we are talking about cultural legacy here.

The way we study music almost demands evidence of progression. With the benefit of hindsight it looks as if Waters and Fripp both knew when to stop, could afford to stop and knew how to stop. Crimson could have toured in the Red format for years and become a huge act churning out more of the same. Whether they could have or should have is neither here nor there. Fact is they didn’t and we got the equally brilliant and totally forward looking Exposure instead, Like his music or hate them Waters only records when he has something new to say.

The classic rock bands of yore seem to be able to tour the old music for as long as the spirit moves them and regardless as to whether they ever create a worthwhile bar of new music. The beautiful thing about Fly From Here and Heaven & Earth is that they may be less than perfect but I think they gain huge credit from the fact that they have no reason to exist other than the love of the music and the desire to be creative as a group. Those records would not have sold the band a single additional ticket and are all the better for it. They may have even lost money making them. In any event I doubt anyone is still paying their bills out of the royalties.

Fairly or unfairly I will never shake the feeling that the music from Big Generator to Magnified existed more than partially to give the band a reason to continue to tour profitably. Doesn’t mean they don’t contain some valuable pieces of music. It’s just not music that anyone is likely to care about when all of us, and the people who made it, are long gone. Both Waters and Fripp have made some flawed and / or flat out boring records but no one could say the music was being made because a manager or record company or accountant or ex-spouse or tax man was tapping their watch.

All that said, out of all of the music made between 66 and 80, it is the Yes music from Survival to Awaken that will always shine brightest for me because it took 70s rock music to the limits of what was possible with the forces available, provided a continuum from the late Romantic European classical era but also included elements taken from American popular music, offering the maximum in emotion with the most beautiful and enduring melodies of the era. The music was complicated but no more complicated than it needed to be in order to develop the ideas. That’s a combination that will always be hard to beat. Hopefully those are facets that the people of the 22nd century will fall in love with too.

Thanks Ian – some really interesting points. It will indeed be fascinating to see which music survives but I’m very glad Yes didn’t give up after the 70s as I wouldn’t have had a chance to see them at all and I love a lot of the music they produced after that as well as the multi-faceted story of the band.

I agree. I love a lot of it too. My comment was more about how the music will be perceived by future generations of listeners, critics and academics than inherent worth. Complex discographies can be incredibly problematic. I have been lucky enough to follow the band’s musical development in real time since Yessongs. I do wonder what happens to people who start their Yes listening randomly with maybe 90125 because of the hit single and then land on Relayer or TfTO before moving on to Heaven and Earth. This is where the Yes Years box did a really good job of giving their history an appropriate frame (the live version of And You And I aside). If that was the only compilation on the market then they would be in good shape. However Wikipedia lists well over 30 (!) most of which are somewhat less well judged cash-in products rather than respectful and thoughtful overviews. For a 14 year old coming to find out what all the fuss is about it’s a minefield.

I believe Yes Music will survive in some form or another, believing that it has left such a huge footprint on the music industry that as you have said on this show on many occasions is that they are musicians first and for most. It seems that they have influenced so many other big names that with people who love yes music will find a way to always use or take from there great melodic signatures,varying different time beats I mean Yes was so ahead of music and composing that I believe they will stay reverent for many years to come.Really when you listen to many tracks of Yes music they them self’s have song about it on many tracks, forgive me if I cannot remember right off hand however the music and vocals speak very much to a great mass of people who would not consider them self progressive rockers not to mention the orchestration of some of there greatest songs.
So for me for instance I have for children who are no longer children rather young adults who all have a love of Yes music in their own way that has brought them to other music that I believe makes them always want better / real musicians and not this computer generated music but real skill of real people. That is how Yes will survive for many years to come.
They have breaking rules of music for almost fifty years now and I believe that will continue in some shape or form for many years to come!

Thank you again for all the hard work that goes into this great podcast it shows every week how Yes has left a mark on all of us in some shape or form.

Paul Tomei

Thanks Paul. I think you are right about the influence on other artists. When younger generations are switched on to an artist who cites Yes as an influence, the most engaged fans will investigate the band so there’s a chance that Yes will continue to be listened to forever, even if it dwindles in popularity more generally.

I can see Yes continuing as Yes for a time. After Steve Howe and Alan White retire and are replaced and the whole band is 2nd or 3rd generation, what next? They should probably stop touring/recording before that happens. Or do we replace the replacements ad infinitum? I think not. Maybe after the 50th anniversary events, just let it go. It would be a good day.

The best change their legacy has would be for other bands to add some Yes music to their shows, a cover tune here or there. I imagine the tribute bands might continue for quite awhile.

Yes Music will continue to live on. However Yes is like the caretaker’s broom. He’s had it for decades, replaced the head four times and the handle twice. Had they been called Anderson Squire … etc, they’d have been finished ages ago. Yes and ARW are not really anything other than a lot of erstwhile defunct bands. Can one take them more seriously than The Drifters or Madness just hawking around a lot of decades’ old material?

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