As I finish up the Great Mix Experiment of Aught Five, music has been on my mind. Who we listen to and what is playing as the background soundtrack of our lives will shape, mold and define who we become.
There were several years of a running theory that there are two types of people in this world – those who like John Lennon and those who like Paul McCartney. This is based on the thought that everyone listens to the Beatles. Getting older, I realized that wasn’t the case; there are many Beach Boys and Grateful Dead families out there to disagree. So I would say that the people you do listen to were influenced by the Beatles in some way, and that influence would show a heavy guidance from Paul or John.
Three years ago while having lunch with some good college friends, one person, who is a hippy brought up by hippies, heard me explain the Paul vs. John theory and asked “What about Bob Dylan?” She nearly fell over calling me a fascist when I replied “I don’t really like Dylan.” Yes, I see how important he is to the culture, I know he is important to many people for musical tastes, and yes he put many beliefs to music. My greater problem with Dylan is that I did not understand a word he said. First rule of public speaking is to be seen and heard by the audience. If you can not accomplish this, your message will be lost. (Before you write to tell me what an idiot I am, I have heard other artists perform Dylan and have really enjoyed it.)
Nick Hornby: If you have seen High Fidelity or read the book you can appreciate that there are some people who live in a subculture of loving music. They swim like salmon in the undercurrents with slight ebb and flow of the music industry waiting to spawn and die in that magical Shangri-La of undiscovered talent. I am not that guy. Clubs are too smoky and loud for me. I like my pop music to play while I clean or work.
One thing we get from the Hornby movie that I think is important is a top five list. This week on the new television show “Love Monkey” our main character re-visits this. In brief, Tom used to work for a major record label, thinks he has sold out, and moves to an independent label. His job is to find those small town talents and bring them to global stardom like American Idol. *Side Note - these first few episodes deal with a new talent he found in Monroe Michigan.
Tom, sitting across from what is sure to be one of two love interests if the show last three seasons, listens to the girls top five list. Number five is “We Built This City” by Starship. Can you really love someone with bad taste? We will see how the writers handle this. Others on her list of five include Dylan and the Clash. Both, again, I can see why they are on there, but would not be in my top five. Tom’s character then says, so he won’t loose points with her, “good taste is very subjective.” Which he can not defend, he does not believe, and she calls him out on – good writing, let’s keep this show on the air.
A little history of p2…
My first job out of college was with a small concert promotion firm in Philadelphia. It seemed really appealing to go to concerts all the time, listen to cool music, meet industry insiders, meet some musicians, and be able to build a firm. What it turned out to be was a clash of personality and a life lesson learned quickly: the music industry is all about money. Which is fine, but I still want to enjoy music at the end of the day, and could not at this job. Plus, I think I have lost part of my hearing from those days.
People like music, all kinds of music, for all sorts of absurd reasons. If you have John or Paul on your top five list along with P-Ditty, are willing to pay $120 for nose bleed seats on the Spice Girls reunion tour, that is cool. Who am I to judge?
Our ability to download and burn the hoards of pop and slick marketed commercial replays behind Target commercials and product placed songs during “Love Monkey” is so fast. There is so much out there. I just hope that our ability to filter out the quantity for the quality is never lost.
I will tell you that Paul McCartney is a musical genius. That Ben Fold, who was on “Love Monkey” this week, and (name drop) someone I have had the pleasure to eat lunch with, is one of the greatest talents today. And I’ll also tell you that “We Built This City” should never be played again. Taste is not subjective. “Talent” is bought and sold between recording companies over a cup of coffee or the lead singer’s weight gain coming out of rehab for the third time. Good music speaks to your soul, so be careful what you listen to.
I won’t judge you for having bad taste. I will encourage you to expand your pallet.