Christina The Yes Fan
Christina The Yes Fan called during the 10/28/03 to defend the progressive rock band Yes. She had previously e-mailed Tom regarding his anti-Yes comments on the 10/21/03 show.
Tom pulled six Yes albums -- Yes, Relayer, Fragile, Close to the Edge, Time and a Word, and Yesterdays -- but did not have Christina's top choice: Tales from Topographic Oceans. Christina believes the whole first side of that album is "amazing".
Christina argues that Yes is a band that is a victime of commercial radio's penchant for tracks like "I've Seen All Good People: Your Move/All Good People" or "Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)". (Tom does a rendition of the song, nicely approximating Chris Squire's bass sound.) As a result, the general public thinks Yes is a weird jam band. Christina says that Yes is a neo-baroque band using layers of sound and changes. She can understand that the band doesn't have broad appeal, but believes they are underrated.
Converting the Disbeliever
Tom asks Christina for a track that might win him over and she opts for "Heart of the Sunrise" from Fragile. The song makes Tom think of Vincent Gallo, who used it in Buffalo '66.
Tom thinks frontman Jon Anderson emits awful, elf-like sounds. Christina admits that he's a "little weird", but points out that Led Zeppelin also didn't have the hottest vocals. Tom agrees, saying that Led Zepellin would have been the greatest instrumental band on Earth if not for Robert Plant slowing down.
Tom points out the lengthy, multi-part songs that make up the Yes catalog (e.g, the three-part epic "Gates of Delirium" from Relayer). Christina says that people are so used to being spoon-fed 3:25-long pop songs that they can't handle listening to a full side of an album. She compares it to concerto on a classical album -- it takes you on a journey of changes and guides the listener through a landscape of sound. Christina says a double-album like Tales from Topographic Oceans is not working-class rock 'n roll like The Rolling Stones. It's not the kind of stuff you listen to when you're sanding down something in your work shed.
Tom starts to get a bit into "Heart of the Sunrise", and Christina's recommends listening to the song when walking in NYC amidst swirling winds.
God's Green Earth
Tom wonders if Christina stares at the Tales from Topographic Oceanscover when she listens to it, imagining that she's on the ship flying around. Tom also suggests that she smokes a lot of pot and wants her to go on the record. Christina declines comment. Later, she says that she had her "time" with it. She has listened to Yes without chemical aid and still liked their music.
Other Musical Interests
Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Neil Young, Acid Mothers Temple, Philip Glass, Oneida, Silver Jews, Pavement, and classical
File Under: Stinks
Tom plays a bit of "We Have Heaven" but doesn't last long -- he has no time for it and declares that Yes stinks. Christina disagrees. Tom thinks Yes records should be filed in the classical section of a record store so he will never have to see them. Tom asks "Don't you think Beethoven was the Jon Anderson of his time?" before declaring that he will go to Tower Records to buy every Yes album they have.
Christina says all Tom needs is Tales of Topographic Oceans.
The Letter To Tom
The following is the verified, authentic text of an e-mail sent by Christina The Yes Fan to Tom Scharpling shortly after the 10/21/03 show.
Dear Mr. Scharpling,
I am writing in regard to an on-air incident in the October 21st, 2003 broadcast of The Best Show on WFMU. During the aforementioned episode, particular defamations were made of the band YES. I am writing to clarify and defend the musical merit of said band.
Firstly, YES is a band long bearing the brunt of Progressive Rock jokes. I believe this is due to a common, casual, and overly-examined grouping of "prog-rock" bands into the realm of quasi-new age, Tolkien-esque works of epic proportions. Let me state firstly, that YES assumes in neither its recorded works or liner notes a connection to any of this. Like Tolkien's works (the Lord of the Rings, etc.) I believe a basic tale has been much construed to take on the proportions of the great myth of man, regardless of what the author claims his intentions. Well, who are we kidding, really. Isn't every work or manmade creation an expression of man's existence and perceptions (or limitations thereof)? The point being, there is a difference between epic and grandiose (the later one being of inflated importance). This difference is crucial to understanding YES.
YES has attempted to speak of the epic, but without pretensions. They're not claiming to have the answers to the divisions of races and mankind, or to be able to slay Grendell. What they do as a band is to approach music and musical traditions with the earnest and sometimes bizarre conclusions that any human might make. And YES sometimes it's weird, but wonderful and original--see "Tales From Topographic Oceans." I challenge you to play the whole of The Revealing Science of God Dance of the Dawn. It's truly awesome! Indeed it is not a 3.25 minute pop song, it will take you on a journey. And is that not what we, as humans respond to music for? It takes us to dimensions the rest of our body cannot travel.
Somehow, YES has been criticized for the trait feared most by man, fallibility. This is a trait for which I admire them. YES has pursued a musical vision not popular to many, but unique and worthy of consideration. Without suggesting a similar historical importance, I urge you a comparison of the changes in Bach's Brandenburg Concerto, and say, Long Distance Runaround. I feel that YES offers a link to a musical interpretation that has been little investigated.
I acknowledge the weakness of YES for masterful album editing. The inclusion of "the fish" I find unappetizing. But how many great songs come off mediocre albums? Do we crucify the Rolling Stones for such failings? This is where I raise to light the glistening gem of "Heart of the Sunrise," off Fragile. Also, I would like to note the invention of "track selection" available on most every CD player, where one may "skip" or rearrange tracks in "juke box" style.
Perhaps the most appalling aspect of this entire assault on YES is the on-air forced oath swearing of allegiance against YES. (which incidentally, I relinquish John Junk from due to his sworn allegiance to me and democracy.) Well, I thought WFMU was about the dejected, under-heard changelings of indie and often obscure persuasions. All I have to say about that is sometimes the traits which we loathe in others, are the vary traits which we possess.*
Sincerely Concerned for the Progressive Benefit of all Listeners,
* (ie. you really love YES through your overly apparent hatred, and would perhaps make music like them yourself, if you tried)