Monday, October 15, 2007

The Evil That Men Do, Part 1: Music for Captive Audiences

Why do we do this to each other? Why do we insist on inflicting our music on each other - in our homes, in our cars? Once you enter someone else’s living space you’re subjected to their taste. It’s just a matter of how strongly they insist on imposing it on you.

You do it to me because you assume everybody must like what you’re putting on. It’s a big hit, so normal people should like it. A big enough hit to penetrate the personal and professional smog you’ve surrounded yourself with by having a family and job. The CD is something we’ve all heard of, so there’s no presumption on your part in putting it on. In fact, you’re being nice. It’s like you put out a plate of nachos.

My motives aren’t so pure. With me, everything’s got to be edifying. I can’t just put on what you already like. As a matter of fact, I probably don’t have it. I’ve heard it too many times already, and probably don’t like it nearly as much as you do anyway. So what do I do? I put on something that I like that I’m just sure you’ll like, too - because I’m good like that.

When I do it to you, sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Or should I say, sometimes it works. Three examples that come to mind:

The Chills “Submarine Bells”

Badly Drawn Boy “Hour of the Bewilderbeast”

Sufjan Stevens “Illinois

All of these got very positive reactions, and it’s easy to understand why. They are very melodic, with pleasing, but non-abrasive textures. You can have dinner to them.

Some of my other attempts have not been so successful:

Nico (Eva Braun singing Jackson Browne)

Pere Ubu (Nico, during the fall of Berlin)

Captain Beefheart (words fail me).

I resigned myself (around the time of my wedding) not to play these records around guests anymore.

And I now know not to put on a brand new CD (Jonathan Richmond’s “Jonathan Sings!”) on when people are helping you out with painting or moving. This is definitely one of those occasions when you just have to turn over control of the stereo to them - especially if it’s me.

If you’re having a party, you can tell people to put on whatever they like (although I’d sooner they helped me with the barbequing), but just so they don’t actually take you up on it, make sure you’ve got the CD changer filled and playing, and keep plying them with another beer.

Now playing: The Chills - Heavenly Pop Hit
via FoxyTunes

Now playing: Badly Drawn Boy - The Shining
via FoxyTunes

Now playing: Sufjan Stevens - Casimir Pulaski Day
via FoxyTunes

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very interesting, funny, and true. Love you.