Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Falling In Love...With Music by Tamara Hogan

I had a definite "I'm becoming my mother" moment over Labor Day Weekend. It went something like this:

SCENE: Lake cabin, northern MN, sunny afternoon with temperatures in the mid 60's.  While two couples eat lunch from paper plates, Katy Perry's "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" starts playing on the radio.

I wrinkle my nose at its pop and fizz, at its flagrant and unapologetic use of AutoTune. "This sucks. Hard. Who's going to tell the children of today that their favorite singers can't actually sing?"

Mike grins at me. "That sounds like something our mothers would say."

"Well, I like it," Kristi replies defensively.

Ruh-roh.

(sigh) Yeah, Mike totally called me on my crap, as longtime friends are in prime position to do. He was right. I might just as well have added, grumpily, "...and you dang kids get off of my lawn!" But if there's anything I have an immediate and visceral opinion about, it's the music I enjoy. I know what I like, and I did NOT like...THAT.   

But someone whose opinion I respected did, so Kristi's response made me think about why I love the music I do. Is it the sound? The lyrics? Song structure, or use of a particular instrument? Or is it because the song evokes particular memories or a sense of nostalgia?

There's a theory I've heard which suggests that people tend to have a lifetime love of the music they listened to in their late teens and early twenties, when they were coming of age - when we were young, strong and unwrinkled, partying, meeting romantic partners, falling in love. I blew this theory by Mike and Kristi - they both shot it down, saying it wasn't true for them - but when I think about the music that I find most pleasurable, I definitely think first about the music I was exposed to when I went to college in the early 80's. Dark, muddy, sludgy, distinctly analog, what Sirius XM Radio calls "1st Wave Classic Alternative", most of it imported from the shores of England: Bauhaus. Joy Division. Depeche Mode. The Cure. Siouxie and the Banshees. Then a little lighter: Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Roxy Music, Tears For Fears. As you might imagine, when Grunge arrived on the scene in the 90's, it was right up my alley: Nine Inch Nails, Alice in Chains, Nirvana, Soundgarden. Unfortunately, the darkness seemed to seep into these band members' very psyches, with far too many lost to drug overdoses... Then, later, came Marilyn Manson, Avenged Sevenfold, Evanescence, and Type O Negative.

So for me, I think it's a certain sonic landscape that resonates, and short, frothy pop confections are WAY down on my personal list. So many of the bands whose music I've enjoyed over the decades share an aural and lyrical darkness that I find so lush - and so, so beautiful.

So, what kind of music do you love, and why?

To prove this is a Zero Judgment Zone, here's the video for Katy Perry's "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F)." I have to admit it's pretty damn clever - for a music video. (>^..^<.)



12 comments:

  1. yeah, it's clever but give me a good metal band like Avenged Sevenfold or Bullet For My Valentine with musicians who actually play instruments over a pop princess who's more interested in clothes and makeup. of course, the metal guys have enough ink to print a newspaper but it's looks good on them.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great post, Miz Tamara!
    I cut my teeth on music from Patsy Cline and George Jones. I married a man who sang in a country band (in border town dives) in the college years. He still gets out the guitar at family dinners and we two step around the floor and down the hall while everyone who wants to sings whether they can carry a tune or not. I write about cowboys who love country music. Those old beer drinkin', cheatin', two steppin' songs are very much a part of my life...and yep, I got the love of it from my Momma!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hmm. The greatest musical genius of our age is Dave Brubeck, closely followed by the late Eubie Blake. Mel Torme qualified as a vocal genius, even when he was singing "When Zazz Turned Blue." I'm also partial to Brahms, Chopin, and Rachmaninoff, while the Goldberg Variations are mesmerizing.

    And all those bands you mentioned? So much sound and fury... clever maybe, but musical? Over produced, I'd say, wearing the musical equivalents of too much make up and big designer heels. To each her own.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love Rock 'n Roll! It reminds me of dancing in a crowded club with the wild colored lights flashing all across the dancers, making it surrealistic and appear as though everyone was dancing even faster. Definitely not my mother's style. :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. I have been a Beatles fan since I was 12 years old. Always will be. But I love most any kind of music but rap. Never got into that beat.
    Amelia

    ReplyDelete
  6. I had an older sister so I liked her music (60's)and I grew up in the 70's and didn't have kids until later in the 80's then I started listening to boy bands with my daughters but before that I discovered country rock and classical and I still hear some of the music my grown daughters like (I do like Kate Perry lol). So I guess I have a variety except not so much rap except a very few and not too much real heavy metal but I think I'm open to everything else.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Stephanie - yes! Exactly! What does it say about a song that I can barely stomach listening to it unless there are interesting visuals, too? Good songs don't need visuals!!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Carolyn, I have to out myself here and say that while I have an abiding love of country music LYRICS, most country music is not to my taste. I recently heard a cool song by The Band Perry that I enjoy, but I think it has as much to do with the bass player's David Cassidy haircut than anything else. Yeah, call me shallow.

    Grace - yes, to each their own, indeed. I'm a huge fan of darkness and dissonance - in both music and writing. Stephen King is my patron saint, and I named the villain of my first book "Stephen" in homage. ;-)

    Terry, yes, I love going out to to dance, or to watch live music. Each club definitely has a vibe of its own, so it can take some hit and miss before finding one that suits.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Amelia - HUge Beatles fan here, and I like some old school rap - "I like big butts and I cannot lie! You other brothers can't deny!" - but a lot of the newer stuff isn't to my taste. I can listen to almost anything but the twangiest of country, and polka.

    Hi, catslady! I think you nailed the key point - keeping an open mind - and open ears, I guess. About the video: I hope Katy P. took the opportunity to talk to Ms. Deborah Gibson, who played her mother in the video. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Well, I had never heard that Katy perry song, so thanks for the link. I also like Depeche Mode, the Cure, the Smiths, etc. not so big on Grunge rock. But I don't mind listening to some of the Wiggles and a few of the Sesame Street songs. Maybe it's just whatever we get used to.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Shana - I"m giggling at your mention of The Wiggles; I don't have kids, and I can't count how many times I've had to quickly turn down the music in my because my niece was in the back seat.

    These are the kinds of things I don't usually have to think about!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I like all kinds of music, but lately I've been mostly into Train, Maroon Five, and the Wallflowers. Loved the video!

    ReplyDelete