Thursday, June 19, 2008

Junk Or Junque?

I posted some more of my musical guilty pleasures a couple of days ago and friend and author of the wonderful blog "Dispatches From The Away Dad Nation", Hal, stated: "I guess it shows a lack of musical sophistication on my part that I didn't find much to feel guilty about in your list. But then, heck, my list might include The Monkees."
Well, this got me thinking. I don't think it has to do with someone lacking "musical sophistication", or anything else for that matter. We like what we like and that's it. No point in analyzing it, really. Music is an extremely personal thing, and tastes can vary dramatically from one person to the other, even if you think that you're simpatico with another so-called music snob. Sometimes we like to think that our tastes are superior, that we have a better ear for the finer sounds, but it's all relative. Really, who am I to say that the stuff you listen to and enjoy sucks dog ass?
Now don't get me wrong, the whole point of this here little blog is to spark debate and perhaps introduce you to some really good music that you've never heard before. It's those "A-HA!" moments that we live for, right? Discovering an album that, after hearing it once you wonder how you've gone your life without owning a copy.
So, you like Lennon and I prefer McCartney. You like Tears For Fears and I prefer The THE. I think John Prine is one of the most underrated songwriters and you believe Jim Croce had more influence than Bob Dylan.
But, on this blog anyway, you're gonna have to prove it. Tell me why, give me an educated reason, why you like or dislike something. All so-called music snobs are open to new experiences and all can take a little constructive critisism. There is so much good, undiscovered stuff out there that we'd be foolish not to keep an open mind. I've discovered more great bands in the last 5 years than I have in the prior 15, and that's the truth.

In my opinion good music is like good wine: it has everything to do with taste and nothing to do with the vintage. You can study it, dissect it, swish it around in your mouth, spout your educated witticisms, but bottom line is if you don't like it the first time you will spit it out. You may, however, aquire a taste for it over time.

Never be ashamed of liking the Monkees, Hal. Heck, the TV show introduced me to rock music. I heard them before I heard the Beatles!


Erin said...

In 1972 – back when I was a teenager, angst-ridden and trapped in the LA suburbs, my father brought home a record album.

Dad played John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” seventeen thousand times. I took it away from him. I fired up the old Magnavox and listened to The Rest of the Story – “I Guess He’d Rather Be in Colorado, “My Sweet Lady,” “Poems, Prayers and Promises,” “Around and Around.”

In that time and in that moment, those songs were life-changing. I began to imagine a world beyond the suburbs. Beyond cinder block walls and stuccoed subdivisions.

A few years later, when my boyfriend and I set out on a series of camping trips exploring the Western US, John Denver was part of the soundtrack – we made clumsy mix-tapes back then. But we sang along to “All of My Memories” and “Annie’s Song.”

Driving through Utah and Northern California, Craig and I began to realize that people actually lived and enjoyed life in small towns. What a revelation. We started to put together a plan for escaping the Big City.

At the time that Denver’s plane crashed into the waves in Monterey Bay, we were purchasing a small business in Redding and packing up to move to a new life in Shasta County.
We ended up in Cottonwood, where we watch the storms come across the valley, and listen to the rodeo stock that roam behind our house and watch hundreds of bats return every morning to the hollow oak tree just outside our bedroom window. Almost heaven.

And we make music -- much of it centered around this amazing place we call home.

Denver’s music shaped my life and made it into something different, better, richer. Can't ask for much more than that from an artist.

I didn't mean to be so long-winded - but you did ask.

Uncle E said...

Erin, thank you for taking the time to leave such a thoughtful comment. It's funny the songs that stay with us from our childhood. I feel the same way about Elton John's Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy and I too moved to Cottonwood to excape the BIG city life (which was getting very dangerous).
Again, thanks so much for the comment. Always welcome.

Anonymous said...

One of the things that I find so compelling about music (and art in general) is its life-changing capability. Music has a power unlike anything else on the planet. It can change us, actually move our molecules around. And an artist who can touch that part of your soul becomes more than a pop star, singer, poet or painter. They become a part of our DNA.
Now, I confess to being a musical snob and there are artists that I have ridiculed. But, as my eyes open to the world I've learned to understand a bit better. How can I make fun of an artist who has touched so many people so deeply? It may not resonate with me, but that doesn't make it less powerful for another listener. It has taken me a while but I've learned that I don't know nearly as much as I thought I did. If I can't hear the beauty in a John Denver song, who is the loser?
The next time I hear his music, I'll be a little more attentive and a little more respectful. Because I know now that he had a power that should be praised, not ridiculed. He touched people's lives. And that, honeybuns, is art.
Thanks for the beautiful post, Erin. And thanks, Unc for the forum.

P.S. - I still refuse to admit that Debbie boone ever actually made any music, she did something, but it wasn't good. Sorry.

Erin said...

Everybody's being just a little bit too nice. When Phil starts saying kind things about John Denver, can the four horsemen of the Apocalypse be far behind? I think Debby Boone may actually BE one of them.

But seriously - thanks for handling my True Confession so gently. It's a pleasure to read your blog, Ian - always interesting.

Franko6677 said...

Nice post! I couldn't agree more. I try never to say something sucks, or "how can you like that!?," etc, because I know that every band that doesn't do it for me is really floatin' someone else's boat. Even when I review a CD positively or negatively I try to keep from making be all, end all statements because music is so subjective and personal.

Any major dude with half a heart said...

John Denver was, of course, a genius before he turned into a muppet.

I feel no guilt about liking music. One likes music for all kinds of reason: sometimes because it's just very good, sometimes because it evokes a good memory. When I enjoy the stylings of David Cassidy on "Daydreamer", I can't tell whether the song is any good; I like it because it takes me back to when I was 7. I won't feel guilty about enjoying hearing the occasional Bay City Rollers song, just as one should not apologise for liking a childhood pudding, even if that pudding does not reach he culinary heights of a perfectly done Creme Brullée.

Of course I scoff at some music. And here's the caveat to my laissez-faire approach. I despair at people who think Coldplay have edge, or who think that U2 (who have The Edge) are the apex of rick music, or who'll buy CDs by Michael Bublé or Rod Stewart American Songbooks instead of going for the originals. I am at a loss why people like Celine Dion when there is so much better stuff which they just need to seek out, instead of listening to the radio and TV and going by some misguided perceived wisdom (and, while I'm attacking Canadians, fuck Josh Groban and Shania Twain, too).

These people are welcome to enjoy that crap, but I will blow a fuse when they claim that these herberts are "the best" music available.

Holly A Hughes said...

The Dude's preaching the exact gospel I believe in. But even though I despise the very IDEA of Rod Stewart, I still can't help but have a soft spot for "Maggie's Farm" -- it's one of those "you had to be there" things.

I never disliked John Denver, Erin, or the Monkees, Hal. I'll still defend the Monkees. They may not have been a real band when they started out, but they fought the suits to become one, and they had the steepest learning curve of any band ever (and did it all in the glare of major publicity -- they never had the luxury of honing their craft for years in small clubs before making the big time).

I will also admit to loving ABBA. For what they were -- a completely glossy machine of pre-disco pop -- they somehow still had heart and passion. I think it helped that in Scandinavia you don't have to apologize for being commercial. Some of the tech stuff they were doing in the studio was way ahead of its time, and those songs are devastatingly catchy, admit it. BUT, just like Unc said, the REASON I love ABBA is that I was living in England when they first broke big, and going to tacky discos with my English friends, and I will always jump out of my seat with a whoop when Dancing Queen comes on the air. It's a time-and-place thing.

I'll go even farther -- Gary Lewis and the Playboys. Every time I weed out crap from my iTunes, I think about deleting "This Diamond Ring" -- and I can't. I got rid of Coldplay long ago (once they'd jumped the shark), but Gary Lewis? He's still there.