Broken-down Poetry: Title Track: Musical Pride


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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Title Track: Musical Pride

Be thankful that I was not A&E editor last year.

I say that for many reasons, I suppose. I think Jocelyn did an amazing job with the section, and I’m proud to be her successor. Not to mention that last year at this time I hardly knew what AP style was – the journalist’s version of MLA or APA – despite my year on staff at my high school newspaper.

But last year the A&E section, had I been the editor, would have been filled with a lack of variety and integrity. Because last year, folks, I was a music snob.

I would have said that with pride because the bands I’ve been listening to for years are the same ones loved by professional music enthusiasts. Bands like Franz Ferdinand, Kings of Leon and Manchester Orchestra became my most played on iTunes. I learned that rap music can be cool and ironic like Gnarls Barkley and Jaydiohead. And most importantly, I shunned all “Christian” music, except for Jars of Clay.

Back in May, my friend Adam and I would sit in this little locally-owned coffeehouse in Fort Wayne, sipping tea and talking about what real music is. We’d rattle off names of musicians no one else knows about (Great Lake Swimmers, M83, Eef Barzelay). And Adam would tell me about the time he played secular music through the church loudspeakers when he ran the soundboard, and I would say something snotty about the lack of musical variety my own church offers (Chris Tomlin or Matt Redman, take your pick).

Last summer I remember flipping through my friend Jacque’s CD collection during our road trip, seeing only Switchfoot and Sanctus Real, wondering how I was going to survive the next 300 miles.

So, I never knew that the sin of pride could infiltrate my music like this.

Because that’s really what this is: a pride issue. I think that because I listen to cool music and you don’t, I am somehow better than you or more tasteful or more cultured.

It works the other way around too. This is the same reason why I get so offended when my roommate Lindsey makes fun of my music. It’s not that you’re dissing what flows through my ear buds; you’re dissing me for choosing to press play.

My friend Abby loves Coldplay. Whenever we drive together, she switches what I am currently playing (the Decemberists, fun., Andrew Bird) to Coldplay’s song “Lost.”

I hate that song. I hate that album. I hate how much everyone loves Coldplay so much.

“Then why do you have them on your iPod?” Abby has asked me more than once. And honestly, the answer is kind of pitiful: I have songs by Coldplay to make my musical tastes seem cooler. Because, apparently, Coldplay is the epitome of “good music.” (Really?)

You know that phrase, “Keeping up with the Jones’?” Some people like getting fancy electronics to show off to their friends. Some people dress in only brand names. I fill my iPod with catchy music – whether I like the songs or not, apparently.

I shouldn’t find my identity in the type of music I listen to, but I do. I know I’m not going to be shunned for liking or hating a certain band. I’m still friends with Matt who listens to Creed, so he can still be my friend when I blast Miley Cyrus.

Even writing this column has been a struggle for me. You can’t imagine how hard it was admitting I listen to Miley Cyrus. I’ve tried to make up for it by placing other cooler musicians in parentheses throughout this column. (Like this: M. Ward, Animal Collective, Kings of Convenience.)

I want to know what you think. I know taste in music is subjective, but do you find yourself acting like me, letting your favorite music define you? Do you do it with other forms of media?

And if so, what should we do? Humble ourselves and listen to lame music, or suck it up and try to not let music define us?

Continue the conversation online at my blog:

1 comment:

adam garland said...

I know what you mean seeing as we've had conversations about how and why people listen to the music they do. It's incredible really, but I understand why, pop music strikes such a resounding chord with Americans and connects them in ways previously unseen. It's almost a God like force. I mean look at Kelly Clarkson, not my favorite, but whenever "Since You've Been Gone" comes on I freak out. I do. I even like Britney Spears songs Toxic for the sweet violin part.

Both you and me will always be prone to bouts of pride and arrogance because we are writers and therefore raging egomaniacs. We each have blogs that we write on and no one really reads. They might read yours actually, but mine isn't the hot spot these days. But the most important thing I learned during my vacation away from creating is that I need to create for myself and not for the person on the other end.