Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like
YouTube served me up a record I haven’t heard in about 48 years the other day, and I’m still swooning over it.
Not because it was an especially great record. In fact, I bet it’s largely forgotten for the most part, but in the early ‘70s, at least in St. Louis, Mo., it was all the rage on KSHE-95—Real Rock Radio. That was the so-called progressive station in town, and it specialized in stuff you couldn’t get on Top 40 AM stations like KXOK. In the summer of ’73, they’d play whole sides of LPs in the vein of Dark Side of the Moon, and you’d hear lots of non-charting bands like String-Driven Thing, Wishbone Ash, Uriah Heep, and It’s A Beautiful Day. All the Kool Kids listened to KSHE and sported T-shirts with its mascot, Sweetmeat the Pig.
Cue up the double album, 666, by Aphrodite’s Child.
The title alone gave this record some vicarious fascination. Was it demonic? Was it apocalyptic? I wasn’t sure, but one of the oft-played songs on it told of the four horses revealed when the lamb opens the seals. Straight out of Revelation. It’s an eerie song too, with ethereal vocals and tinkly bells, followed by scalding guitar solos. It’s been buried in my head for almost half a century.
Yet, when it played on YouTube, all of its nuances came back to me, preserved in my memory.
Aphrodite’s Child, by the way, included the keyboard/synth master, Vangelis, who died a few weeks ago. (I didn’t know he pronounced his name Van-GHEL-iss.) You can hear his lush influence all through the two discs, though most people remember him for the Chariots of Fire and Bladerunner music.
Anyway, it was the last song on the album, “Break,” that really gave me shivers. I haven’t given it one thought in all this time, yet it came rushing to the surface from deep inside my frontal lobe as the wistful piano started, and I had to drop everything, close my eyes, and listen. It took me back through decades like a bathyscaphe carrying me to the seabed. The hair on my arms stood up. All I could do was relish the goosebumps and let the experience happen.
This is how powerful music is. I don’t think any other art form has the same kind of effect, even if Proust puts some stock in the taste of childhood madeleines rendered in fiction. All I know is, when I hear music from heavily inflected times in my life, I feel it all.
It might not hit you as anything special, but you can listen to 666 any time you like. Thanks to YouTube, Spotify, et al., we can time travel whenever the fancy strikes.
What music from your earlier life still resonates today?