After this, everything else is downhill.
I suspect most of you reading this are the right age to remember the ‘prog rock’ era in the seventies. King Crimson, in particular.
Some of you may also recall my occasional mentions of my old high school friend Joe. He played the guitar, and moreover he had the best stereo and an amazing record collection, so we would generally congregate at his place. Joe always knew what was new and cool in the world of music, he was plugged into that section of pop culture the way I am into things like comics and science fiction.
This continued well into my college years, though for whatever reason I never quite clicked with the first iteration of King Crimson (though I remember Joe playing it for us once in a while, and how pleased he was to have seen Mr. Fripp play a small show at Music Millennium in Portland.)
But Joe wasn’t just about the records; he also had all sorts of music magazines lying around, and being the voracious reader that I have always been, I would often glance through one or another of them. This is how I became acquainted with Robert Fripp.
First of all, Robert Fripp is a terrific interview. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he was remarkably clear-headed and thoughtful. Moreover, he was able to express those thoughts with extremely articulate precision. Not only that, he was a writer himself. His columns peppered the magazines Joe had lying around and I became a fan of his analytical, wry prose style.
Shortly thereafter, Joe acquired Fripp’s solo album Exposure, which I liked a great deal.
I made it a point to keep up after that. League of Gentlemen…
…and of course the reformed King Crimson (s.)
Years went by and I heard that Robert Fripp had retired from touring to teach music.
I just assumed that was the end of the story. I don’t haunt record stores any more, haven’t for years; and since Joe lives in Eugene and I’m in Seattle, he doesn’t enable my audiophile OCD tendencies like he used to. Anyway, it seemed like a fitting retirement for such a thoughtful, intellectual musician.
But one of the delightful things about the internet is you get re-acquainted with folks you thought had left the scene entirely. Turns out that Mr. Fripp is still playing and recording, often in collaboration with his wife Toyah Willcox. And over the course of the last few months, they have been amusing themselves during the quarantine lockdown by putting up videos of themselves playing music and kidding around in their kitchen and the back yard and so on.
Here is the thing I never realized; Robert Fripp, who I always thought was so serious, actually has quite an antic sense of humor. Especially when aided and abetted by his bride. These are hilarious videos.
Far and away my favorites of these are the “Agony Aunts” videos, where they take questions from us, the audience.
And in yesterday’s, they USED MY QUESTION ABOUT HIS OLD COLUMNS!! Fourth one in.
I feel ridiculously pleased and validated. I am all aglow at having sparked the both of them so, and still blushing at being thanked by name by one of my writing heroes. I was going to alert you to these videos anyway but now I have a reason to move it to the top of the list. The entire Agony Aunts playlist is here and I recommend it to you unreservedly. I hope Julie and I are having that much fun at their age.
As for me, I’m off to check out Toyah’s book because I’m interested now. What’s one more for the to-read pile at this point? (Assuming I can find a copy that won’t break the bank; it’s apparently quite a collector’s item.)
Back next week with something cool.