Procol Harum

the Pale 

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My own personal Basement Analysts Procol Harum

Breck Breckenridge

Having recently celebrated (if that is the right verb :), my 54th Birthday, I'm afraid like many other increasingly older men, I have the tendency to look backwards upon my life rather than constantly forward, as is the wont of younger men.

I look back to a time when I was a young man, a time some 30+ years ago now. The Year was 1969 to 1970 and My! wasn't the World an interesting place then! It was a time of really extraordinary creativity, especially in the contemporary musical arts of what was euphemistically called "Rock and Roll". The Music of my Generation was peopled by such incredible souls as John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Stephen Stills, a little fellow named Bob Dylan, and a group-of-mysteries called Procol Harum.

To this day Gary Brooker and Keith Reid deny having any special agenda insofar as intending to radically alter their listeners' perceptions in very odd and magically psychological ways. And why not believe them? It's the least we can do. Still, aware or not, they were most certainly a part of that generation and its times. There was definitely "something" in the air, other than Pot! (of course there WAS a lot of that too!).

And, to this day, I believe that two bands in particular were carrying the weight of their generation's thoughts, aspirations and ideals, and those bands were The Beatles and Procol Harum. In very different ways they sought to expand a consciousness of "what is", to borrow a phrase from Krishnamurti. The Beatles, and especially John Lennon and Paul McCartney, were interested in somewhat social issues having to do with "what could be". At times both of them could scale truly laudable heights of idealism, centered upon Love, the kind of Love that can completely bear the weight of that capital L.

Procol Harum, and especially Gary Brooker and Keith Reid, were interested in more personal issues having to do with looking within oneself and dealing with some of the forces there that were not quite as noble as one might wish! At times, Keith's words and Gary's music could bring one to the very precipice of self-discovery, and then Robin Trower's amazing guitar and Barrie Wilson's crazily syncopated drums would push us over!

Those days and times are long gone now. John Lennon is dead, as is Jimi Hendrix, George Harrison, Barrie Wilson, and many others of that time. And yet, those times live on in the hearts and souls of some people still alive today, though we are now "old". There really was "something in the air" something perhaps better left unsaid, "only sometimes still no doubt, it's hard to see, it all works out".

It is working out in how we are living our lives to this very day. And if I am ever asked, or ask it of myself, what it is that has made me the kind of person I am today, I will always think of 1969 and All You Need is Love, and down underneath it all, my own personal Basement Analysts Procol Harum.

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