The New Boredom

Mah and Newer. Manure.

“Why do you like music?”

with 3 comments

This one time some one asked me, “Why do you like music?” and at the time I thought it was a stupid question and gave it a stupid reply like, “Because it helps me shake my money maker.” But then I thought about that question again recently and it really confused the hell out of me. Maybe it’s the hemorrhage in my brain. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought the question was actually pretty significant. It’s a huge question. It’s not the boring small talk of “What music do you like?” or the slightly more interesting “What music do you hate?” but is a much more slippery existential question about how you may define yourself through your taste. And this struck me as important because, at my most modest, I’d like to think that I have sort of okay taste in music.

But how do you measure having good taste in music? Is your ipod just loaded up with any shit that gets over an 8.5 on Pitchfork? It has to be more than that. I’d like to think I now have good taste because there are scars left in my cd case landscape (or hard drive, whatever) from the removal of embarrassing artists that have provided a relative perspective to compare old and new. I’ve been thinking a lot about how I came to conclude that these removed acts were embarrassing anyway and why I’d have thought they were not only important enough to buy initially (anyone can take bad advice or make mistakes at the store, after all), but important enough to me to keep around until well past their expiration date in my life. If I could figure out why I toss out stuff I finally conclude is garbage then maybe I’d understand why I like music, or at least I’d awkwardly address the issue of why I don’t like some music.

At some point in middle school. I started listening to MXPX, arguably the least preachy Christian punk band to ever reach prominence (so un-preachy in fact that I never knew they were “Christians” until 2006 a full four or five years after I last gave a shit about them as a band). I was entering that prime teen angst age and I was sad that I had missed out on being angsty while the radio played Nirvana and the better Soundgarden albums. As late as I was to hit angsty-time, the radio was a watered down sea-scape of pop-punk with some okay stuff like Green Day but mostly candy ass fluff like New Found Glory. Anyways, for some reason, I found MXPX and thought they were somehow a better example of angst that what was on the radio. And this is basically true though I’d have been better off with some Fugazi and At The Drive-In (I didn’t know this at the time). The only reason I liked MXPX as long as I did in high school was because the only other student out of the 3000+ in school with me that even knew who they existed as a band was the guy finger-blasting the girl who I thought I loved and would someday marry. So I clung to them as a go-to punk band for years and that was basically my level of music appreciation for several years: “The guy hookin’ it with the girl you have a stupid crush on has heard of a band I’ve got three cd’s from, thus they must be good.”

Then something happened and I probably heard something like Modest Mouse’s Breakthrough and my world changed, and I totally grew up in 4 minutes and 7 seconds or something. It seemed like instantaneously I was being swept away by a tidal wave of Sparklehorse, Built To Spill, The Decemberists, Death From Above 1979, Trail of Dead, Air, Elliott Smith, Wilco, Broken Social Scene, Spoon, Ugly Cassanova, The Black Keys, The Strokes, and Beck’s Sea Change.

As it turns out I would later see MXPX-Aware-Guy’s now ex-girlfriend on the street many years after high school ended and we would barely acknowledge the other person’s presence, passing on the chance to reconnect in favor of barely noticeable head nods, both so minuscule they would be dismissed by the other as an adjustment to the low afternoon sun. I currently acknowledge another MXPX fan in much the same way these days.

It would be nice to think that I have good taste these days but I still have guilty pleasures. So I still have some bad taste. But at least I don’t keep liking bad music for the same reasons as I did in high school. There was really no good reason for me to listen to System Of A Down for two years after I knew deep down that I was sick of their schtick. There is, however, a good reason to give Grizzly Bear a 6 month chance and then dismiss them: they are fucking boring. I still don’t have a good reason for why I like music but at least I have a better grasp on why I hate some of it.

And I have made no existential progress.


Worst rant ever…


Written by photokevo

June 9, 2010 at 10:08 pm

Posted in Nerd Out With Me

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3 Responses

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  1. I agree, worst rant ever, but a great question.

    I would guess that the reason most people listen to music is because they enjoy it. Even if it is bad, and a lot of it is terrible, music can put a smile on your face, make you angry or whatever.
    Through music we have the ability to easily create/stimulate feelings when so much else in life doesn’t feel like anything at all.

    Also, who decides what is good and what is shit? (Another question for another time perhaps?)


    June 10, 2010 at 7:43 am

  2. I have an extra cocorosie ticket for Monday at the gothic. I am driving up riding Sunday. Then show. Drive home Tuesday. 806.420.0966


    June 18, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    • awdammit. thi is what i get for not blogging more in life. I don’t check this for a week and I miss catching up with you over some cocorosie. Hope it was a good show!


      June 27, 2010 at 1:06 am

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