My hard-core “education” in progressive rock came in the late-1970s.  Any introduction I had to it before then was more like kids’ stuff, little bits and pieces I’d pick up off the radio or maybe some late-night music show on television when the reception was clear in small-town Idaho, way out in the middle of nowhere.

My progressive rock “teacher” brought that musical “classroom” with him from the East Coast, and I was an intrigued “student.”  He mentioned a band a time or two that I never got a chance to listen to until later in life, one of his favorites that originated from his home stomping grounds.

“You ought to hear Happy The Man,” he said.

“Happy The Man?  That’s the name of the band?”

“Yeah, those dudes are somethin’ else, I’m tellin’ ya.”

“How do you pick up on all this stuff?  I never even knew these guys existed.”

“They play them on the radio all the time back in D.C.”

There was my handicap.  Big-town guy hooks up with small-town guy, big-town guy gets to hear progressive rock and jazz-fusion on the radio in a steady diet and all that the small-town guy gets is Top 40 with Casey Kasem counting ’em down on the weekends.

Not that there was anything wrong with Top 40 (for the most part) back then, there was some great music being written.  But for someone who liked a lot of variety in his music … that was a handicap.

So, the years went by, my “teacher” and I went our separate ways for quite a few years, but I still remembered that name — Happy The Man.  When I was finally able to check out their music … well, I was happy.

No cookie-cutter music there.  Nope, just “Happy tunes.”


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