Friday, June 22, 2007

Guest Blogger: Kyle Rants

Today I open up Fighting the Youth to frequent commenter Kyle so he can go off on whatever topic he chooses. Let's see what he has to say:

I recently attended a BBQ hosted by a friend. There are only so many times I can hear how G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S Fergie is, or what Justin Timberlake is bringing in an one hour period, so I asked if I could let my MP3 player do the talking at the BBQ. Really, a selfish suggestion on my part since my MP3 player is sans Fergie and JT. I was told in the most polite way, “No, your taste in music is too weird.” This is not the first time I have heard this. People think it’s weird not because I am listening to a cd of two ferrets fighting inside a snare drum, but because I am listening to a band unfamiliar to most people.

Weird…wow…crap, I don’t want to be the weird guy. I wouldn’t ever want to be the uniform, straight out of the mold, typical dude, but I definitely don’t want to be the weird guy. Before I know it, I’ll be the creepy guy, too and won’t even be invited to the BBQ in the first place. Defending myself from myself, I went with the typical weirdo excuse, “I am not weird, everyone else is weird!” I really think this is true!

Now, let me provide a little insight into my “weird taste.” I love music. I want to expand my musical library to the point where there is not a mood or urge that I cannot satisfy by consulting my catalogue. It’s the search. It’s the thrill of discovering a new band you dig. It’s the hours I spend reading about new bands on the internet or playing the “Oh yea, have you ever heard…” game with my friends. I pride myself in my taste in music. I am a music seeker.

Is it weird listen to a band very few people know of? Or is it weird to be so closed minded that you are unwilling to seek out a new band and try it on for size, or heck, even listen to a band once that you never heard of? The answer is the latter. I think it is infinitely weird for someone who claims to “love music”, but won’t listen to anything not on the radio. These people are music followers. They don’t truly love music; they are just following the trends. When I was 8, I wore bicycle pants all the time – whether I was actually biking or not. I didn’t actually like them; I just wore them because they were cool! Now it’s clear that I had horrible taste in pantwear. I know the music industry has become a popularity contest, rather than a true display of talent, but if you dig deep into the chasms, there are some great bands out there! Don’t let the selection at Best Buy or what everyone else is listening to determine who your favorite band is. I recently went to Best Buy to purchase the new Modest Mouse cd only to find out they didn’t stock it. Yet, there were enough copies of American Idol loser Elliot Yamin, for every man, woman, and child in Chicago to buy 3 copies.

The other day, my roommate (and sadly a self-proclaimed music follower) asked me if I had any suggestions for him. I told him to go to my CD collection and grab Silversun Pickups or maybe Explosions in the Sky. A few minutes later and commented that my CD collection looked like 500 different responses to a mad lib of the form adjective, noun, noun, asked me if I had the latest Silly Monkey Jump album, and left empty handed. I laughed, but I also pitied his ignorance. Here, my friend was asking for a suggestion. I will often offer up unprompted suggestions which are frequently disregarded or even derided outside my indie friends because it’s so obvious I’ll suggest a band so off the wall that no one could possibly like them except me and their mothers.

Attention all music followers, my weird taste is your saving grace! I do not suggest bands you don’t know to be pushy or snobby, but to merely expose you to a band that you haven’t even have an opportunity to dig yet. These aren’t blind, totally random suggestions. I really put a lot of mental effort through cross referencing band suggestions with your musical tastes. It’s an awesome feeling to be the one that turned someone onto their new favorite band!

Come to think of it, a synonym for weird is unusual. The music followers are in the large majority in this word, so that puts me in the minority, the unusual. I guess I do have a weird taste in music. Next time someone tells me I have a weird taste in music; I am just going to shoot them a confused dog sneer and tell them to go back to their Nickelback CD. But inside, I am going to feel a little bit sorry for them because there is so much musical beauty out there that they’ll never hear.

First of all, I have to say I like how fired up Kyle is about this. I should note that the friend who was hosting the barbecue is someone VERY close to Kyle, so his request was not unreasonable. Nor is his irritation with being called weird.

There's a wonderful scene in the book High Fidelity which didn't make it into the movie. Rob and Laura have reconciled a bit and they have dinner with a couple who Laura knows from work. They have a fantastic evening and really hit it off. Laura says to Rob, "Check out their record collection." He proceeds to find the worst array of music he can fathom. I believe there was Barry Manilow and other such dreck (possibly even
YMCA). Rob finds himself in a personal dilemma. He wants simultaneously to love and hate these people. In the end, his "music snobbery" side wins out and he finds it difficult to spend time with the couple.

I'm a somewhat proud, self-proclaimed music snob, but Kyle raises a worthwhile issue. What of the music snobs who not only know nothing about music, but are generally not interested in hearing new songs until they're already accustomed to them? What should we call these people?

I'm going to go with "nostalgists" because that's really the way they approach music, whether they know it or not. They want music to be their personal soundtrack, and when they hear a song they like, it's because it reminds them an era in their life that they like - even if that era was two weeks ago at Pablo McFlannigan's. Part of the reason Kyle gets called "weird" is because a person with a deeper understanding of the subject is likely somewhat threatening to a nostalgist. I long got over my "Rob Gordon" phase where I condemn someone for what I consider to be uninformed taste (note that Kyle has never had such a phase). It's totally unfair to judge someone on something they have every right not to care about. I just get excited when I meet someone who shares a passion for music.


PMaz said...

Enjoyed the rant and I totally agree about people labeling you as "weird". But actually the most disappointing thing to me is when they actually allow you play something new for them and they STILL close their minds, even if you can tell they are liking it. I must say that I am seeing a little of the same on the other end of the spectrum. Some folks I exchange music with all seem to gravitate towards the "hyped band" that really get as much push as Justin Timberlake without any discrimination. And when I play them something like B.C. Camplight, they won't listen because they haven't read about it.

Somewhere out there, I know there is a band I would probably put in my Top that I have never heard. It's frustrating.

Anonymous said...

Kyle is weird