I thought I'd check in again before the end of the month; I'm not really up to full-on blogging just yet, but I couldn't let the passing of Yes's Chris Squire go without comment. Chris died at the weekend just over a month after he announced that he was being treated for acute erythroid leukemia. I've been a fan of Yes since I was a kid; their blend of accomplished and accessible progressive rock meant that they were one of my favourite bands from the first time I heard their music. Chris's bass playing was an important part of the Yes sound, and his prodigious chops meant that their songs had a bass part that often worked in secondary melodies and counterpoint to the main tune. His tone was a rich, twangy, trebly sound, often flanged, that never sat back in the mix. He would occasionally double his bass parts on guitar to thicken them up. Listen to a track like Going for the One to hear him switch between playing off the beat to doubling Jon Anderson's vocal line and back again. And in the background his vocals - also an indispensable part of the bands's sound - are doing just as much work as the bass.
In Yes's stage performances he was a tall and imposing figure, often bedecked in striking costumes and playing a bewildering variety of instruments including a Wal triple-neck bass originally built for Roger Newell and the strange-looking Mouradian bass (in a fetching shade of green) that saw a lot of use on the 90125 tour. But he's probably best known for playing his 1964 Rickenbacker 4001 that did so much to shape his trademark sound.
Chris cofounded the band and was a continual presence as line-ups changed over the years. He played on every studio album they've released - the only member of the band to do so. He didn't miss a gig in 40 years of touring. It was his abilities that first made me realise how important a bass player was to a band and his style helped shape my own approach to music. Yes will carry on (as it always has) through another lineup change and Chris's friend Billy Sherwood is talking over duties as bassist. But the fact that Chris won't be playing any more gigs with the band makes me profoundly sad. News of his death hit me hard, even though I was never lucky enough to meet him. His passing leaves a huge hole in the prog scene and he will be very badly missed.
The UK is experiencing the beginning of a heatwave today and as it approaches 4 pm the temperature outside is 29°C. In the conservatory it's 30°C even with the windows open. At least the virginia creeper on the house is keeping things a bit cooler inside - it's "only" 25°C at my desk. I've just finished another round of clearing up, which included shredding enough old documents to fill a bin liner. But the thermal cutout on the shredder triggered as I finished off the final batch of papers, and it's getting noticeably hotter in here (the temperature's now risen to 26°C) so that's enough tidying up for the time being.
Nevertheless, I'm beginning to beat the house back into shape. The housework is an indication of my improved mood, and it's a positive feedback cycle: after tidying up and hanging some of my pictures on the wall in here, the place looks much more presentable, so I feel better. That means I'm more motivated to tidy up, and so it goes on. The garden has benefited, too: I've cut back the plants, mowed the lawn, swept the patio, fixed some trellis work that had collapsed and set up some solar-powered lights (a bargain £1 each from Sainsbury's!) and the difference is remarkable. I think this week that I might treat myself to a new set of garden furniture so I can actually sit out there and enjoy it.
It's been more than seven weeks since I last posted anything here, so I thought it was about time I checked in. First off, I'd like to say thanks to all the folks who have helped me out and sent messages of support and reassurance since my last post. They know who they are.
I'm happy to say that I'm in a much better state now than I was at the beginning of May. I'm back on meds but I'm also undergoing cognitive behavioural therapy, which is both fascinating and helpful. It's having noticeable effects: I've been tidying up and throwing things out and the house is looking tidier than it has done for years. Put simply, I feel capable of doing things again, so here I am in a new month for the blog. I might not be as posty as I used to be for a while, but I do intend to keep updating this thing. The blog will be twelve years old tomorrow, so you may even get two blog posts this week. How about that?