burned on music, weary of normalcy

A friend asked me if I wanted to listen to his favorite music today. I turned him down, but for all the wrong reasons. For a long time I’ve been burned by top 40 music, for many reasons. I don’t like the fact that so many artists are defined wholly by their image. I don’t find any personal interest in music that isn’t music, but is just a backdrop for some modern-day beat poetry. I also don’t respect musicians who make repetitive gestures and expect them to be taken up as life’s blood. (I don’t mean repetitive action can’t be musical — take drum circles and their ancestry for example — but a 16-note undeveloped sequence on some 1970s vintage analog symthesizer is not a song.)

So I have this extreme prejudice that shows up when people ask me to listen to “popular music.” There’s definitely top-40 stuff I like (Garbage comes to mind) but it’s rare. Friends come to my abode and look through my record collection, hoping to spy something they recognize to put on the stereo. Usually they fail, unless they know folk, jazz, older rock (yay Elvis Costello!) or the truly bizarre like The Bobs or Donald Harrison’s Mardi Gras Indians.

A lot of people rail against “the system” just to be different. They buy independent records to prevent fuelling the recording industry’s payola system. They refuse to “sell out” by shopping at large food chains because they exploit various farm workers. They run Linux because Microsoft is bad.

Personally, I am a vegetarian because my body can’t digest meat very well (I get awful cramps for days.) I don’t listen to top 40 because I don’t enjoy it. If jazz fusion or folk became popular again, of course I’d listen to top 40! And I’d spend more time in front of the mass media if I liked their message at all. As it stands, it doesn’t usually tell me anything I feel enriches my life. I’m even contemplating not running cable or satellite to my new abode, though there are informational channels I want (pilots MUST HAVE the weather channel…)

I’ve never really felt that I was required to live a normal life. Those of you who know me intimately know I speak the truth. But I have felt increased pressure recently to not outright reject popular culture on the grounds that it’s just popular culture. I’ll be sure not to do that now, but it doesn’t mean I am all of a sudden going to replace my record collection with Top 40 hits and watch Friends. (Yuck.)

14 thoughts on “burned on music, weary of normalcy

  1. Didn’t call last night because my phone won’t make LD calls! so sorry! :(

    Do you have any instant messaging thing we can use? Yes, I was hoping to stay at your place Sat. Nite….*bats eyelashes* hope that’s ok :)

  2. I always used to entirely ignore what was considered popular and great if I did’t see some immediate appeal/value in it for me. I’ve found though that this approach makes you miss a LOT of great stuff out there simply because you never gave it a chance.. and it isn’t conducive to giving you much exposure to some of the best out there in culture. I have missed such stuff as The Godfather (watched some just recently but only got up to the horse’s head :), most classical movies from earlier in the century, nearly all 80s music DURING the 80s (didn’t really get into it till like.. last few years), etc. Other times I do a complete 180 and take up the mantle of certain overly popular things like pop songs simply because I find it amusing that others get so easily irritated at hearing it. ^_^

    But in general with music or any sort of such media… when it comes straight down to it, ye just gotta hang up the picture of dogs playing poker and say, “I may not know ‘ART’… but I know what _I_ like.”

  3. if you are still around, I use yahoo IM, and will hop on that Right Now… I will have to take off to go teaching in about an hour, though. If we don’t connect via IM, email me your phone # and I will call you when I get home tonight.

  4. I’m not suggesting I completely shut myself off to the media. Being an informed audience is very important. Too many people slag on the news and media as a simple excuse for not being an informed, critical audience. That’s just lazy and uninformed.

    I, on the other hand, will not be made fun of just because I sample a media outlet, decide it’s not for me, and ignore it for a specific period of time. My rejection of, say, Christina Aguillera, is not because she’s a media whore. It’s because she’s a whore. :P (glib, ok, yes. Honestly, I don’t like her voice OR image.)

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