Support Provided ByLearn More

"Marquee Moon"

ByTom MillerThe Secret Life of Scientists and EngineersThe Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers

Receive emails about upcoming NOVA programs and related content, as well as featured reporting about current events through a science lens.

Click here for Larry’s profile.

When Larry Rosenblum was a teenager, he was way into music, especially what was called “progressive rock” – Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Yes, Genesis – bands that brought classical structure, advanced technique and three-and-a-half-hour drum solos to enthralled masses around the world. And when Larry and his friends eventually formed bands, this was the kind of music they played.

Support Provided ByLearn More
The young rocker/scientist… with truly fantastic hair.

Then it all changed for him:

“I went to visit one of my good friend’s brothers up at his university. He asked us what type of music we were into. We said, ‘Oh, we’re playing all this classical rock.’ He said, ‘Well, that’s all good and fine, but let’s see where music is going.’ And he put on this amazing song called ‘Marquee Moon’ by a band called Television. And it was different from anything I had ever heard. And I realized that these are musicians who might not have the classical technique of the sort of musicians I was listening to, but they were musicians who had a very novel and passionate perspective on what they were doing. And so the parts were simpler. But when they were put together, they formed something very complex, very magical, much more in the gut, much more kind of pure passion.”

Lots of teenagers hear new music. And they excited by it. And that’s the end of the story – no big deal. But there was something about “Marquee Moon” that hit Larry on a molecular level – changed the way he thought about himself and his world forever:

“I decided to go back and start a punk band. And at the same time, something very interesting happened. Because all these friends I had, the guys who were in the classical rock band, they were all budding scientists and brilliant guys. They all ended up being scientists, very successful scientists. But I frankly was very intimidated by how smart they were. They had very good technical skills, very good mathematics skills. And I wasn’t quite as easy in that world as they were. But then by being introduced to a different type of music, I realized if there are different ways of approaching music, there are different ways of approaching science. And I realized that I could be a scientist – and a successful scientist, possibly, by taking a different approach, a less technical approach, but a very thoughtful approach, where maybe the emphasis was on imagination and creativity. And it kind of made me feel a little bit more confident that I could do what I wanted to do, which was to do research on questions I really cared about. I tell people, if they think they don’t have a scientific mind, well, there’s no such thing as ‘a scientific mind.’ There are thousands of scientific minds. There are thousands of ways of becoming a scientist and there are thousands of different types or styles of science you can do.”

Watch Larry’s videos and we think you’ll like the kind of scientist he turned out to be.

Oh and here’s “Marquee Moon.” It might make you want to become a scientist.