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A Portrait of the Music Snob as a Young Man

Big milestone in music history today: On October 10, 1969—exactly fifty years ago—King Crimson released its debut album, In the Court of the Crimson King, while Frank Zappa dropped Hot Rats.

Obviously, I’m not the first to notice that the stars aligned that day, as both records were hugely influential in the genres of progressive rock and jazz fusion, respectively.

But they’re much more than historical footnotes to me.

Crimson King is one of those albums that opened up an entire world of musical possibilities, from early Peter Gabriel-led Genesis to David Bowie to Brian Eno to Gentle Giant; Zappa’s cosmic jams were in part what led me, in a roundabout way, to a more profound appreciation of – and ultimately a return to – the Grateful Dead.

Of course, the whole misfit-attracted-to-musical-misfits angle can’t be ignored, I suppose. Crimson and Zappa spoke to me in ways that the made-for-MTV pop stars of the 1980s simply couldn’t. But then, I’ve since outgrown that phase—mostly—and the music still has a power over me. So there’s that.

If you’ve not heard this music before, you’re in for a treat. It’s creative, challenging, and wholly unlike anything else that came before it.



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