Who is Prof. Birzer? He is the Russell Kirk Professor of History at Hillsdale College, so you know right off that he’s not some post-modernist poser. In fact he’s written widely and well on aspects of the American Founding, and the Catholic thinker Christopher Dawson.
At 54 minutes his Prog Rock lecture is a bit long for a blog, but worth it if you have the time. Prof. Birzer points out that the iconic Roger Dean album covers for the long series of Yes albums (see below) appear to have been the model for the planet Pandora in James Cameron’s supremely annoying film Avatar. There’s some wonderful history of the evolution of Prog Rock out of the jazz stylings of Dave Brubeck and others, but the best parts of the lecture explain how much of Prog Rock departs significantly from the main line of rebellious rock and roll of the 1960s in being more cerebral. Prog Rock often has intricate and obscure story lines, often with titles that come in several Roman-numeralled subparts. He even draws a connection with the abstract poetic style of T.S. Eliot, with themes of time and eternity looming large.