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To Use Prog or not to Use Prog…

Jerry Lucky Commentary July 2010

Copyright Jerry Lucky © 2010 All Rights Reserved

 

I realize I’m sticking with kind of the same general theme here as last month, but it was a further thought I had regarding

some of the nomenclature we’ve become so adept at using. In this case it’s the use of the term ‘Prog’. A word that has been

around for a few years now thanks to the ever-so-trendy British press. At least that’s where I first started seeing the use of the word.

If memory serves, it was inClassic Rock magazine issue 97 where they ran a cover story entitled “The State of Prog.”  That was back in 2006.

 

So four years on what’s to be made of the word. Well as you might expect some love it and some loathe it. My first discussion about the actual word was with Peter Thelin of Expose magazine and while I don’t remember the details of the discussion I do remember him saying he didn’t care for the use of the term. I think he felt it kind of “cheapened” the genre just a little bit. It was his contrary stance that caused me to always be thinking about the term.

 

To use the term Prog or not to use the term Prog that is the question then, isn’t it? Over the years since 2006 I must admit that I’ve found myself using the term more and more until now I probably use it more than I use the full expression Progressive Rock. I sometimes hate to admit it, but the truth is we do live in a culture that is extremely fond of abbreviations and acronyms and here I too have fallen victim to the slippery slope of brevity.

 

So I ask myself; have I lost the ability to convey meaning to those I talk to? Have I fallen into the jargon trap? To which I answer in a resounding and very self-serving “no way!” LOL!

 

In the past I’ve written about how, I think it was Paul Simon who once said, “Every generation needs its own heroes,” and I’m of the opinion that may also be true of descriptive terms. Yesterday’s Progressive Rock fan is today’s Prog fan…if you know what I mean.

 

Now, if I’m right, the term Prog has actually come to mean MORE than what the term Progressive Rock means. Strange as it seems it includes all of that and more. While the term Progressive Rock for many comes with the baggage of a negative historical identity, the term Prog is more forward looking. In many ways it’s a more inclusive term, taking into account all of what has gone before but now including so much more that is available. This applies not only to the sound created but also to the attitude of the creators. In addition to that it’s a way for a younger generation to take ownership of a genre. To coin a phrase…This is not your father’s progressive rock.

 

I’ve never taken the term Prog to be in any way disparaging or mean-spirited of the progressive rock of the past. It’s included right along side the latest new band that creates Prog with an al-be-it more modern sensibility, incorporating influences that have become available since progressive rocks hey day.

 

You know in some way’s I really like using the term Prog. Not just because it’s shorter or because it sounds hipper (it is both of those) but because it’s a term that speaks easily to newbies, those just discovering the wonders of more complex music. There is no baggage that comes with the term Prog like there is with Progressive Rock. Hmmm…Progressive Rock, just sounds so old doesn’t it? But now Prog that’s quite cool. You can use it knowing you could be referring to Tool or Radiohead or for that matter Yes and The Flower Kings…they’re all in there.

 

So you know I’m probably going to start using Prog more and more. Some of you may not like it…some of you won’t care. But the way I see it, if using the term Prog makes the genre that much more accessible to new-comers and is a way to expose the music I love to others in a positive manner then, hey I’m all for it. Prog-On! At least that’s the way I see it.

 

Jerry Lucky

(7/1/10)