Trouble With Music

I’ve got to admit something.

I like Green Day.

This isn’t something I feel I have to be sorry for, but I honestly don’t think I’ve recently spoken to a single person that didn’t meet that fact with some disdain. Whether it’s an opinion that the only good Green Day is Dookie and the albums that came before it, or if it’s a criticism that Green Day is old and should remain in the 90s, the general consensus seems to be that Green Day isn’t a good band, and I’m a lesser person for liking them.

People get really passionate about the music they like. This is good. Music is art. People getting passionate about it is supposed to be a good thing. I’m not going to lie, though – sometimes that passion gets a little too aggressive. Like, one sports team fan getting in a fist fight with another sports team fan in a bar because he was wearing his team’s jersey aggressive.

This is why I usually keep my musical tastes to myself. A lot of people I know who are really into music like to shit all over other people’s preferences. And I don’t mean to sound all high and mighty, I’ll outright say if something sounds like shit when I hear a song I don’t like in a commercial or in a store or something like that. But if someone says they like a band I don’t, I’ll keep my opinions to myself. I don’t need to say “Ewww!” or “that band sucks” or anything else that’s more or less trash talk.

As a result, I don’t have as big of a musical palette as I would like to have. Oh sure, I’ll always ask for good recommendations from people that know a lot about music or listen to a lot of different bands. But over the past couple of years, I’m starting to realize that’s a fantastic way to let people know I’m a loser desperately trying to fit in. Well, at least that’s how I feel like I’m coming off anyway.

I like talking about the things I’m into, so maybe that’s one reason I’m disappointed in the fact that I seem to have a difficult time talking about music. What I really should be doing is finding more music I like on my own, and enjoying it for myself, rather than for the desire to talk about music with other people.

And to some extent, I do. If I read or hear about a band, sometimes I’ll look up the album on YouTube and listen to it. If I like it that much, I’ll try to go find a copy to buy. Maybe I’ll listen to other albums by the same band, or go off on one of the recommendations YouTube offers after the video’s over. Sometimes I’ll listen to Pandora to find more bands that have a similar sound to those I already like.

The thing is, I haven’t heard anything that really stuck with me for a while. And I don’t mean that I can’t find anything I like, because I can. I just can’t find anything that really hits close to home very often. I’ll listen to a song or an album, and it’s nice to listen to when I’m writing or doing dishes or reading or whatever else I’m simultaneously working on. But it’s been a while since I listened to something and felt a strong need to go out, purchase the album, and listen to it again and again for years to come. (I guess to be fair, no one looks for music for the sole purpose of wanting it to last for years and years. It’d be nice, but I don’t think that’s usually a factor in the purchasing decision. I think it’s more of a spur of the moment kind of thing, or maybe fueled by curiosity. Still, you know what I mean.)

Even when something sticks, though, I have another issue that prevents my interest in a band from lasting more than a few months: I’ll listen to them too much, and then I’ll hate them for a while.

Albums are really short compared to other media like movies or books. They’re meant to be listened to over and over again. And because they’re just audio, I think it’s even easier to listen to them repeatedly because you can drive or do other things while doing so. So what will happen is, I’ll buy a new album and listen to it a few times before I can really make up my mind about how much I really like it. The first time I’ll listen to it a little casually for a general feeling, the next couple of times I’ll start trying to familiarize myself with what songs stand out (both positively and negatively), and after that I’ll start really trying to listen for the lyrics.

By that point, I can usually decide if I really like an album or not. If I do, I’ll listen to it almost exclusively. Whether it’s the whole album while I’m driving or walking the dog, or select songs while I’m cleaning up the house, that album will be my new number one. And then within a few months, (if that) I’ll be so sick of it I might not even put a single song on my mp3 player for a few more months.

And I hate that. It makes me feel like I just partook in a fad. And the music wasn’t even whatever was the hit of the week on all the radio stations.

For someone that’s not so knowledgeable about music, I feel like I listen to music fairly often. So when I’m choosing to listen to something and I just bought a new album, I can’t help but feel the urge to keep listening to it again and again. And then just like that, the “one time too many” happens without me even realizing it and I don’t want to listen to it for a long time.

One of the places I listen to music a lot is in my car, naturally. I used to have about a 10 minute drive to work, so I didn’t have a problem leaving a CD in my car for about a week before I wanted to switch it out. After moving last fall, however, my commute’s now 45 minutes. I can easily go through an album once or twice per day, and I’ve found myself relying on my mp3 player’s shuffle function instead of deciding what to bring with me for the ride. So now I find myself struggling to find more bands or albums that keep my interest even more.

Last summer I practically gave up on music entirely. For whatever reason, I got too tired of hearing the same stuff over and over, no matter how hard I tried to mix it up. I got tired of lyrics, too. I found myself wanting to listen to podcasts, YouTube videos, music with just instrumentals, and even video game music instead. It was really strange listening to game music again; I used to do that a lot and I thought I was past it, but when it came down to it, that style of music was putting me more at ease than actual music was.

I’ve been slowly coming back into liking actual music again during this year. Maybe I just needed a break. Maybe I needed to stop focusing so much on all the stuff I’ve been ranting about in this post and just take things day by day, listening to whatever I’m in the mood for. Maybe I needed to start considering I may not be into music as much as I thought I was a few years ago. Which is a shame, because I still get pretty emotional and passionate about certain songs. Well, a lot of songs actually.

It’s weird being so swayed by something that you want to be more into but just can’t.

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6 thoughts on “Trouble With Music

  1. That bit about looking like you know nothing reminded me of one point in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, where she advises young women to conceal all their knowledge of everything because there’s nothing that affirms affection like being the object of someone’s fan-indoctrination (okay, that’s nowhere near as elegant as she put it). But it is true that nobody likes an audience more than an evangelist, so ignorance might actually prove to be popular.

    • I haven’t read that one, so I’ll take your word on it. 🙂 Not being up on “good” music that all the enthusiasts love might be better for me if it helps me avoid unnecessary stressful conversations with them, but in the end I’m still looking for music that really sticks with me for a while. If I have to endure some belittling to discover some great bands, I’ll take it. The tradeoff seems worth it.

  2. I love green day! i would love to see them live! i also love sclub7. I too used to feel that i should only own up to certain musical tastes, but now i sing my heart out to dolly parton, then give it beans to basshunter and dont care who is watching!!

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