I’m listening to old live recordings of Yes as I type this, because duh, but also because it’s a Christmas tradition for me as real as any tree-trimming. Intellectually, I know that part of the reason Christmas makes many people so anxious and depressed is because it never quite measures up to the nostalgic and probably false memories they have of it from childhood, and that’s definitely true for me, but I feel like this is a relatively harmless way of evoking tradition and nostalgia. Even while I continue to seek out and enjoy new music, I am beginning to understand why middle-aged people have trouble keeping up with current musical trends: it all seems a bit one-dimensional and hollow compared to the rich, associative world embodied by the music we loved as teenagers. We look to the nostalgic, soothing power of that music to ease the anxiety it itself created by summoning nostalgic associations with which the past can’t possibly compete. It’s sinister and recursive, but relatively harmless. Nostalgia is a lie, time is a goon, and I certainly have no desire to be fifteen again. But perhaps music is the best compromise—the context, but not the content, of that bygone time. During the coldest, darkest time of the year, we can be forgiven for taking refuge in that context, conjured by our own arcane, inviting worlds, whatever they might sound like.
Hit after hit after hit. This has got it all.