Well, we are just about two weeks into this whole LxL thing, so on behalf of Wes, Todd, and me I would like to thank anyone who finds our work interesting enough to read. We are enjoying the whole process of seeing what works, what needs work, and what should have been a stain on the sheets instead of a fully formed idea. Nevertheless, thanks for the patience.
Obviously, we will be reviewing plenty of music, and all types of music at that. And while this is great, reviewing a single album may give you only a few shades of what the writer of the day is into. So throughout this experience, each one of us hope to infuse the onslaught of reviews, lists, news, etc. with more broad-strokes opinion pieces from time to time.
I was speaking to a friend of mine awhile back, and he began to excitedly tell me about how he went the greatest show he had ever seen. I immediately asked him who he saw, and he replied “Nickelback”. Now, as a person who prides oneself in my distinguished musical taste, the thought of a live Nickelback show being enjoyable, much less the best show a person has ever seen, was shocking to the conscience. Further conversation yielded these four items of information: it was at Alpine Valley, it was free, he had first row tickets, and I believe unlimited drinks. Now, while none of the aforementioned four things make the music of Nickelback less partial-birth, I can imagine a scenario where many factors combined to make this a viable music experience.
The above anecdote leads me to the purpose of my writing today; the actual content of music is overrated. Don’t get me wrong, the content of music is highly significant; just not dispositive of the way we (or at least I) experience it. To put it in legal terms, which I have trouble not doing at this point, music seems to be more of a time, place, and manner experience than a content-based experience.
Sure, if you are just sitting on a couch with headphones on listening to your music off your ipod or laptop, then music may be a completely content-based experience. But, luckily that is not the exclusive means with which to enjoy music, nor do I believe anyone wants it to be. We let the environment around us shape how we experience music, and basically let those experiences shape how we end up perceiving it. For example, I’m not sure if I can speak clearly to the awful nature of Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl”. I know that it is a bad song, but what drove it into the depths of my being where only the most vile things are held was hearing it blasting on a boombox playing Hot 107.9 every 45 minutes for an entire summer while working in a furniture factory in the summer of 2005. If ever I were to use an automatic staple gun again, I’m sure it would be to the tune of “Hollaback Girl”.
The environment and experiences surrounding a song or album can become inseparable, even outside of the absurd and repetitions. I can’t listen to The King of Limbs without instantly being transported the party room (quiet computer lab) in the law school library where I studied for my last round of finals. I was so bored and unmotivated that it drove me to enjoying a Radiohead album, pretty much for the first time ever. Ever since getting into Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s Lie Down in the Light during a fairly hopeless time, I subconsciously seem to put it on my ipod whenever there is a death of a loved one. And when I feel like dancing, ironically I automatically put “I Don’t Feel Like Dancing” on the jukebox.
Good music is good music. That is true. But what I would like to convey is to always let music be an addition, and never a subtraction from the activity you are engaged in. It’s not impossible to turn a shitty pop song into something hilarious, or an over-serious hard-rock song into something faux hateful. I thought I would never wash the bad taste out of my mouth from listening to Tha Carter IV 25 times while I was reviewing it. But, all the disappointment faded when I got to saunter up to a group of my friends last weekend at a wedding and perfectly quote a ridiculous, unprovoked Weezy line, bringing down the house.
Thanks for reading. I’ll leave you with something that can cleanse your musical palette if you suffered the misfortune of watching the video above.