Rock has always had a taste for the crazier side of the musical spectrum. I mean, since he was considered the outcast of modern music in his day, it’s not like everything the rock world does is supposed to be “normal” from the start. Even by rock standards, these songs really turned heads.
Compared to the usual bluesy riff that one would expect from this kind of music, these songs are almost atonal in their strangeness. Opting 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 he was by creating something that feels quite coherent. It’s not just weird for the sake of being weird.
All of these artists have at least had some history doing standard rock and roll in their day, only for these songs to push them even further to the edge of sanity. Once you’ve bet on the shock factor, those are still fun songs when you finally break them down. Not bad at all, just incredibly strange for what we’re used to.
Throughout the 1970s rock was always fascinated by the fantastic side of literature. Look no further than any laid back Led Zeppelin song, with the cult of JRR Tolkien’s work being at the center of songs like Ramble On. It’s just for the entry level though … 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 songs on tracks like 2112 and The Fountain of Lamneth. These were just the icebreakers for Xanadu, which is about 11 minutes long and tells the story of a man’s journey through the valleys in search of the lost Xanadu. This sort of thing would normally be the norm for progressive rock, but the language is a bit too flowery to take seriously, culminating when Geddy Lee talks about eating honeydew and drinking heaven’s milk.
It’s also not like this sort of thing wasn’t treated as a joke at the time, with fans flocking to Rush shows with the same prose on their banners. While a lot of artists manage to make some weird detours with rock opera, this is what you get when you tell Neil Peart that he has no more parameters to work around.