When I was eleven years old, my favorite musical artist was OliviaNewton-John. There, I said it. My favorite song was “Physical.” I liked Journey, also. Kool & the Gang. Hall & Oates. I was eleven years old. I’m not ashamed to admit it.
And if you want to know the truth, once I’ve liked something, Igenerally don’t unlike it. The time always comes when I get sick ofcertain songs and artists, or I outgrow them, or whatever. But almostevery song I’ve ever enjoyed is on my computer somewhere. No matter howembarrassing or cheesy or juvenile, there will come a time when I’lllisten to every song in my library. I’m kind of nostalgic like that.
But not everyone is the same. There is a lot of music snobbery out there. And by snobbery, I mean you look down upon music that other people enjoy. Maybe you even attempt to draw conclusions between the music people enjoy and their IQ. Or you draw conclusions about their ability to distinguish between “real” music and pop crap.
I bring this up because over time I have found myself becoming one of these music snobs.
There was a time when I would never admit to a new friend the kind of music I enjoyed. I like to think of myself as a kind of intelligent guy, and I want other people to think so, and certain bands I enjoyed might have portrayed me as some other kind of guy. Some less-intelligent, less-cultured guy.
Into my early and mid-20s, I didn’t listen to any kind of fringe music. The reason for this is because I only ever heard music that was played on the radio where I lived. In my life I’ve moved ten times, and still the largest city I ever called home was the one I live in now. And Tulsa isn’t that big. I didn’t know about U2 until The Unforgettable Fire and then only because some “fringe” friend of mine told me about them (I put fringe between parentheses because he only thought he was fringe.) To be honest I don’t consider this lack of musical knowledge my fault. There were country stations and pop stations and classical. Those were my choices. I listened to pop and sometimes classical, but never, ever country. Never. Ever. But that’s not snobbery, that’s just common sense. 😉
As I got older, though, I began to dislike what was played on the radio. It was boring. So I crawled into a hole and mainly listened to what I already owned. Stopped buying CDs (which were overpriced, anyway). Focused on other things.
And then, like magic, the Internet came along. At first it was slow and you couldn’t call me if I was online (*70 to cancel call waiting, or else you disconnected me from AOL, J-Hole). Then it became faster, much faster, and soon music providers began to pop up. The original Napster was great, but I mainly found old music on there. What turned me around were sites like Yahoo Launchcast, and then iTunes, and now even last.fm. Sites that observe your listening habits and suggest other artists based on them. One day I’m listening to some electronic music on Yahoo, and a song called “God is God” comes up, by Juno Reactor. Never heard of it, but wow! The song rocked! So I rated it a 10, and pretty soon other, similar music began to play, and wow again! All this great music out there that I’d never even heard of!
Gradually, through a combination of active searching and suggestions by iTunes and last.fm, I’ve found all kinds of great stuff. Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Sigur Ros, Death in Vegas, Explosions in the Sky, etc. I’ve found that I really enjoy experimental, instrumental music, whether rock or ambient or classical, or a combination of all. Godspeed is probably my favorite, although Death in Vegas is great because of the different genres they cover.
I said before that I’ve found myself becoming a sort of music snob. As in, if someone asks me what kind of music I enjoy, let me see how many obscure bands I can recite. If the person asking frowns at my answer, or shakes their head, that’s success! They think I’m cool because I listen to bands that only three other people know about! Rock on!
But that isn’t cool. It just seems cool. I have a friend who, when he gets tired of a band, can no longer listen to them. Ever. He’s so passionate about it that he will sell any CD that has fallen out of favor with him. A year after Cobain died, he got rid of his Nirvana CDs. They were no longer cool for him. If that’s what makes him happy, great.
For me, having confidence in yourself, in the things you enjoy, that’s cool. Do I listen to the radio these days? No. Too many commercials and not enough good music (I don’t have satellite in my car.) And the new bands I like aren’t played much on the radio. But just because I don’t like today’s pop music doesn’t mean I think it’s bad. Most of it isn’t for me, that’s all.
But I do have guilty pleasures. My rule is, if I liked a song or album once, it’s still okay with me. It’s like a musical grandfather clause. So go ahead, have your laughs. Because every one of us has their own guilty pleasures. That’s cool.
Be who you are.