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Post details: Yours is no disgrace

Yours is no disgrace

Every now and then it is a good idea to undust your old CDs, open the case and stick the binary packed minifrisbee into the CD player. Today I gave this treatment to a song titled "Yours is no disgrace".

Yes recorded it in the early 70s and I haven't heard it for quite some time. Many of my all-time favorites slowly wane with time, but this one was as raw, succulent, breathtaking, perplexing and uncompromising as when I heard it the first time. Almost as if it existed in some sort of a stable quantum state in which it can forever revolve in my mind without losing any energy.

One thing I always admired about Yes is the respect for their own music. The intensity of this piece sometimes reminds me of the first 122 measures of Beethoven's Grosse Fuge. Such intensity, of course, demands an extra fuel, so the band starts you off with an Intro, which is really nothing else than building up a pressure or pumping gas into the tank, if you will, so that the whole piece will not die somewhere along its tortuous, fourteen minutes long path. And Yes would rather take up a bit of your time than let their music lose its potency.

I never understood the song's ethereal lyrics, but somehow I think it is about searching. How frustrating it can be. And how deeply embedded in us it is. There is a perky little tune presented after the Intro, but when it is supposed to reappear, according to the standard rules of musical repetition, it fails. It has always seemed to me that the rest of the composition is just one desperate search for that tune. A search that drags you through the jungles of jumpy guitar riffs. Through thorny shrieks of harmony that draw blood from your ear-drums. Through dark alleys of human existence. And only when you lose all your faith, just as you reconcile with your defeat, the theme comes back in full glory. Unexpected any more. Puzzling as life itself.

A friend of mine once half-jokingly remarked that she would entrust her two daughters to anyone with a heartbeat. I remember how I balked at the frivolousness of that statement, but on a second thought, I realized that heartbeat is actually a rather scarce commodity, both in music and in people.

The warm feeling of a pulse is exactly what gives this Yes song its longevity. It's like with toys: even the bravest tin soldiers and the blondest Barbies will lose their allure after some time. But kittens and puppies hold their own for a long, long time; often for years. And the difference is simple: the heartbeat. The things that live are unique, and that goes for music too. I am not sure what it is about the living things, but they are pretty close to being inimitable. Case in point: according to bio-researchers, even the cloned pets are not quite the same as the originals.

The collective wisdom of humanity always recognizes and rewards this uniqueness. I am sure 100 years from now you will still be able to get Yes at your music store. What I am less sure of is what kind of medium will their songs be recorded on. Probably a digitized pollen speck that you will smoothly sniff up your nose. Yours is no disgrace.

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