Rock has always had a taste for the craziest side of the musical spectrum. I mean, since he was considered the pariah of modern music in his day, it’s not like everything the rock sphere did was supposed to be “normal” from the start. Even by rock standards, these songs were truly head-spinning.
Compared to the usual bluesy riffs one expects from this kind of music, these songs are almost atonal in their strangeness. Going for the most shocking form of expression, these are the kind of songs that Frank Zappa would have recognized for a moment, being just as informed by the sheer madness of the music as they are to do something that seems completely consistent. They’re not just weird for being weird.
All of these artists have at least had some history making standard rock and roll in their time, only to have these songs push them even further from their sanity. After betting on the shock factor, these are still fun as hell songs when you finally break them down. Not bad at all, just incredibly weird for what we’re used to.
Throughout the 70s, rock has always had a fascination with the fantastic side of literature. Look no further than any laid-back Led Zeppelin song, with JRR Tolkien’s cult work being at the center of songs like Ramble On. It’s just for the entry level though…the real storytellers are the ones who write their own fantasy worlds.
At the dawn of the progressive rock revolution, Rush was the first of its kind to venture into massive song lengths on tracks like 2112 and The Fountain of Lamneth. Those were just the icebreakers for Xanadu, however, which is about 11 minutes long and tells the story of one man’s journey through the valleys in search of the lost Xanadu. This sort of thing would normally be standard for progressive rock, but the language is a little too flowery to be taken seriously, culminating in Geddy Lee talking about eating honeydew and drinking heaven’s milk.
It’s not like this sort of thing wasn’t treated as a joke back then either, with fans coming to Rush shows in droves with the same prose on their banners. While a lot of artists manage to take some weird detours with rock opera, that’s what you get when you tell Neil Peart he has no more parameters to bend.