A Note: Most of the band names are click-able if you would like to check them out!
I’ve always had an affinity for music, and as I get older the criteria for what I like has definitely done some changing. It really boils down to whether I have an emotional response to it or not, I guess. I’ve kind of grown out of the vast majority of things I enjoyed when I first started my journey into music… likingness? Yeah, I know that’s not a word. Whatever, you know? Granted, the through line of the need for some kind of visceral response has always been there, but what once made my adrenaline start pumping has certainly changed. There was a time when Metallica, and Iron Maiden really did it for me. I wasn’t a complete “metal head” or anything, but bands of that ilk definitely were a mainstay of my musical diet. Not so much nowadays. I can’t even remember the last time I actively chose to listen to anything like that. These days my musical consumption could probably be best described as “mellow,” or “mellower”(I’m actually kind of surprised that “mellower” is an actual word. Just sounds like it isn’t one. That is all…). Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Where’s this guy from?
Fag gay pussy lame(?) city!?(Oh, good. We went with lame. Could have gotten awkward. Hey, now!)” Oh, and just so you know, thinking that makes you an asshole. Moving on… “Mellow” doesn’t necessarily denote “neutered.” In fact, in my opinion, I find a lot more variety and unconventional music being made in the “mellow” sector.
I should probably clarify what I mean by “mellow.” I mean it in a more relative sense. Relative to Metallica, Iron Maiden, or say, Dimmu Borgir. Yeah, stuff like those bands. I just don’t connect with that type of music anymore. I guess, it probably has to do with the seemingly impersonal and disconnected nature of how that kind of music is composed. They don’t feel like they come from from a personal place. The lyrics are usually about historical events, fantasy literature, or demons… and stuff. Sure, I know that Metallica has some “personal” songs, but I’m talking about when they were tolerable. I’m a grown up now( Hey, watch it!), and songs with the emotional depth of a teenager, that allows teenagers to commiserate with it, just doesn’t really do it it for me anymore.(Seriously, not trying to be a prick. Listen to Of Wolf and Man, and tell me I’m wrong.) From what I’ve gathered from the various documentaries I’ve seen, they write the instrumentals first, and then they write lyrics to fit those instrumentals. Maybe I’m just being a snob, I don’t know, but in my opinion, I feel like the instrumental portions of a song should be directly connected to and informed by the lyrics, because that’s kind of your emotional core. Without a conscience connection it seems to fall flat. At least, to me, anyways. I’m not saying that the way they go about their business is wrong. It’s more of just a personal preference. I would even go so far as saying that, on some level, I can still appreciate music of this type. It’s just more of an intellectual appreciation. The instrumental structure of a lot of the music from those bands is nothing if not impressive. They are classically structured instrumental compositions played with an adept level of speed and skill. Those are certainly things to admire on a certain level, but it just kind of feels like that stuff is music for musicians, melodramatic teenagers, and emotionally stunted adults. That’s pretty harsh. What I mean is, if that stuff speaks to your soul, or you as a person, I guess. Having said that, though, some people only listen music on a superficial level, and that assessment would be unfair. So, yeah…
The most important thing that I’m looking for in music is sincerity. Cute, I know, but to me that makes all the world of difference. To a certain extent, sincerity is actually more important to me than technical ability. Take for instance, some one like Daniel Johnston. For all intents and purposes this guy is pretty bad all around. He can barely play an instrument, and his voice is… Let’s call it unique. It’s unique. But there is something truly compelling about him, and when I hear his music, I feel like he means every word, and every chord. There’s an earnestness on display that you don’t come by all too often. Full disclosure, though, I found out about Daniel Johnston through a documentary(The Devil and Daniel Johnston), and when I hear his music my opinion is definitely swayed by knowing his personal journey. It’s a really great documentary, by the way, whether you end up liking his music or not. Sincerity isn’t limited to just making what would be deemed to be “bad” to be “good”. Not at all. Look at some of the worlds most accomplished classical composers. Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Chopin, Schumer… I could go on, but I think you get the gist. Their music is so full of life, and passion. They wrote pieces that came from, for lack of a better word, their souls. Emotional dispositions made audible. They had something to say, and that’s how they said it, but it goes beyond that. It’s expression in the purest sense, and it shows because they meant every note. That’s what I’m talking about when write the word “sincerity.” Something that is wrought(Wow, there! Fancy words!) from within.
Now, I realize the cavalcade of words above may make me seem kind of snobby. I can see that, but I don’t have a complete aversion to “fun,” or “turn your brain off” music. No, not all. I enjoy a good “pop” song just as much as the next person. For instance, I love all those one hit wonders from the the 60’s and 80’s(The best decades for that sort of thing, really.) Oh, but it doesn’t stop there, kids! I have been known to enjoy the likes of Electric Six,and Natalie Portman‘s Shaved Head(Although, they definitely seem to have that douche bag hipster aesthetic that I don’t really dig on. Why did you people go and ruin Ray Bans for everyone? I don’t care. I’m still going to wear mine. YOU CAN’T HAVE THEM!) just to name a few. There is a fundamental difference, though. I know what I’m listening to. I have a rather strong aversion to most “mainstream” pop music.(Why? Hold on. I’m getting to it. God…) The espousal of empty headed, emotionally immature, and at worst, morally bankrupt ideology. That’s not to mention the overly formulaic structure. Seriously, I think the “top 40” could use a little uniqueness. I mean, most of the modern “pop artists” are virtually indistinguishable from one another, and that’s across pretty much all genres. Oh, I’m sorry. You’re right. I guess I haven’t taken enough time with it, and I’m missing some of the more subtle nuances of the “assembly line” style of music. My bad, dog. I don’t know, I find a lot of what would be called “club music”(or “club beats”, for the urban set.) to be borderline reprehensible, but I’m 25 going on 72 1/2, so take that for what it’s worth. I guess what really bothers me about that stuff is that I have seen people having sincere emotional responses to it. I wish I was kidding. It makes me feel like it’s a reflection of their person, and that’s pretty gross. Granted, that’s wildly assumptive of me. I guess, it’s a good thing this is my blog, and I’m not writing it on the wall at your house. Although, if that were the case… You should feel honored. Imagine the hand cramp I would have by now!
So, in a nutshell, not the smallest of nutshell’s, I know, that’s where I’m at, as far as the kind of music I seek out and respect these days. These are just some random thoughts that have been bouncing around my grey matter today. Remember, this is just one person’s opinion, and I mean in no way to make any sort of didactic declarations here, but I’m totally right.