Outside of the hearing impaired, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy music or even disregards its impact on their life. There is no way that you can trot through life or consume in our society without considering music as an integral facet in your life. As I write this, I’m listening to Bill Evans and Stan Getz get it on… musically.
I can’t get away from music in my own life. This is self-imposed.
Even if you didn’t listen to a death-core album a day, which is proven to keep doctors away, your ears are pummeled by sound daily. The television/radio jingles that you hear on your way to work, the lobby playlist at your dentist’s office, the crazy man on S. Congress that frantically strums and croons at passersby, etc. are all sonic reminders of how we are connected and, at times, disconnected through music.
Forms of consumption are often used as tools for peacocking. In my life, I have found that no one is excluded from this practice. Many of us use the universal concept of music to connect to the people we care to be with, to separate ourselves from the ones we feel are different and/or to grandstand as connoisseurs, civilized or fun types.
I think I’m just writing this because I read Adorno this week and feel especially cynical about certain things.
At 11, my mother decided that it was best that I not go to Sharpstown Middle School. The gang initiations and violence had alarmed my mother enough to request my enrollment in Paul Revere Middle School’s Magnet Program.
Before my adventures in suburban schools, I was a Latino kid who lived in the “ghetto” and loved rap music. 97.9 The Box was the only station I listened to. My cousin Tony from Chicago introduced me to the greats. I loved Tupac, Biggie, Bone Thugs, Easy E, Ice Cube, Cypress Hill. If they were gangsta’ and from the 90s, I listened to them a lot. I even remember discussing the latest Lil’ Keke album with a chum during lunch in 6th grade. Just like Texas, Dago was from “da souf”.
The culture was different in suburban middle school. There weren’t as many “gangstas” around and the ones that pretended were just assholes. I needed to fit in somehow. I was smart, but that made you the butt of a lot of jokes. I used music as my in. I learned so much about these alien kids and their culture through TV and the radio. I would listen to Top 40 Radio and the Alternative station because I wanted a clue. There kids never heard of Los Bukis and for sure didn’t actively listen to “My Ambitions As a Ridah”. I watched Dawson’s Creek and other shows with youth-driven plots because I wanted to get to know my peers better.
I borrowed copies of Green Day’s Nimrod and The Smashing Pumpkins’ Siamese Dream. I bought my own copy of Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness in 7th grade–1998. I know that’s a few years after the fact, but I was behind in the game, and the kids I loved to hang out with had older siblings that made them listen to their depressing/awesome alternative rock albums. I was playing catch-up.
My mother and father were delighted about my new found love for music, or at least they pretended to be. For years, I rode the wave of “alternative” rock and metal. I loved Korn through high school, secretly through Junior and Senior year when I was in a punk band. At 12 I had earnestly picked up guitar and learned three Korn albums in their entirety by 14 or 15.
In high school, I quickly learned that no one took you seriously if you listened to Korn. NO ONE.
Metal heads are never taken seriously because they are considered weird and focused on being strange. This is a notion I still have today.
I had to change, and I did. Then I changed again in college.
However, the latter was not purposeful in its progress. It was more organic and without intent. I listened to things I found interesting and challenging. In my teens and early twenties, music had become my social crutch. I used it to become more connected to the people around me. There wasn’t necessarily a scene that I followed because, in all honesty, large gatherings always frighten me. However, the fact remains that I used music as a means to an end and not as a leisurely activity.
I feel that a lot of us lose sight of ourselves in the selfish expectations that we create for others to consider when discussing us. A lot of us create these images in order to fit in but only find ourselves empty down the line. If we cut the bullshit how much more diverse could our society be? How much harder could we make it for industry to capture demographics?
And it’s not that I don’t care what people are listening to. I do. No matter how much you fight the urge, you still want to peek your head out and see what the others are doing. You want to remain socially functional in some sense. This is the behavior that gets me in “trouble” and in possession of the new Dirty Projectors album. I’m a hypocrite.
Fuck Dirty Projectors,
PS: Go Texans! 5 – 3, baby!