While I have no musical ability of own, music is incredibly important to me. In the car or at home, particularly when writing, there's music. My tastes are incredibly wide, from orchestral and jazz to stoner metal and hardcore.
Lately, a lot of what I've been listening to can, very broadly, be considered progressive rock. Some is very genre traditional, like Yes or 70s Jethro Tull. Some is contemporary prog metal, like Dream Theater or later Blind Guardian.
Some has lots of time changes and complex rhythms. Some of it's got roots in folk music. The lyrics range from Jon Anderson's inscrutable musings to Blind Guardian's version of the Silmarillion. All of it, while still maintaining a foot in the rock music camp, tends to be more deliberately "artistic" and "complex" that standard pop music. While this can lead to a lot of self important and self indulgent crap, it can lead down some amazing paths as well.
I only recently started wondering why I've always been drawn to prog rock. Part of it's because of mindblowing cover art like this,
but mostly it's because of the music. I suspect much of my susceptibility to long, complex music come from my youth.
First, my dad listened to classical music (on the original WQXR here in NYC). Most of my childhood I heard nothing but classical instrumental music and opera. The only variation was the QXR folk show "Woody's Children" on Saturday night. With those genres, my ears were ready to handle Tull's A Passion Play.
Thinking back I realized my introduction to a lot of actual prog rock came because of this one man:
Andrew Maginley was a buddy of mine from childhood to about my freshman year in college. He's a couple of years older than I am and I totally looked up to him when it came to music. As a kid, he took up guitar and was soon playing all sorts of stringed instruments. I don't know how may hours I listened to him play but it was a lot.
His own tastes at the time were for all things complex, particularly Yes and Queen. Later he was listening to early Dixie Dregs (he also introduced me to Motorhead, but that's another story). I was introduced to all those bands, and many more, in his house. Lots of my friends' musical tastes were built from what their older brothers listened to and Andrew filled that same role for me and effects me to this day.
That being said, here's two very different examples of prog in action