I was just reading this article about John K Sampson and thinking about why I listen to music. Or rather, why I listen to the music I do. This has occupied me quite a lot lately, as I’ve had someone ask me what kind of music I listen to and I couldn’t say, and I’ve had another friend discuss how much she hates any music elitism, and when I think about that sometimes I fervently agree with the principle and sometimes I get possessive of my right to personal perceptions of good taste.
Thing is, I’ve been on both sides of it. I’ve been told all my music is samey, which absolutely enrages me, and I’ve gone ahead and told other people the same, and maybe it enrages them too. I have a lot of respect – perhaps too much – for people with a wide music knowledge and interests, but to an extent I’m happy for myself to speak up and say that I think most art rock is unmusical and unappealing, that the Beatles were once influential but are now largely uninteresting to me, that I can’t remember the last time I listened to one album all the way through. I have a short musical attention span, and I think there’s nothing wrong with that – music is subjective, and you shouldn’t have to listen to what you don’t love.
But then, I’ve always found it difficult to qualify the music I love. I have a whole bunch of often conflicting criteria, and I don’t know how ab-/normal that is. One of the main ones is that I value good lyrics. I have a great deal of respect for The Weakerthans’ John Sampson, Ben Gibbard, Tori Amos, Ani diFranco. I dislike insipid choruses. On the other hand (and this is another main point), I can take some insipid choruses if the music is fun, catchy or otherwise shiny. I have a lot of affection for Panic at the Disco, Fall Out Boy and (newer) Jimmy Eat World because they make me bouncy in ways that words can’t. Yeah, I also thought they were lame until I started listening to them, and now I get defensive on their behalf. I can take cliched, I guess, but I can’t take soulless, however high- or lowbrow.
Anyway. Today’s been unproductive, though more relaxed than any other Saturday I’ve had this term, so I’ll let it pass. But now I should go carry on this Greek translation.