Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Music and Suthunaz
When I first came to Nashville, I had to answer one question a lot. "Are you in the industry?" and by "industry" they mean the music industry and more specifically, Country Music. You see, I have a college degree in music. Though my tastes in music at the time didn't include Country, Western or Bluegrass, all people saw was some guy who had a big background in music moving to Music City. So, they'd always ask, "You come here for the Music Industry?" And my answer was always no. They'd all then give me some strange looks especially when I'd say that my music background was more in Art Songs sung in German and if I used the world "Opera" they'd always reply "Oh yeah, the Opry ...we know all about that...."
I'm still not a fan of Country Music, but I can truly understand the way that people are drawn to it. Country music tells the stories of one's life as it might have been, should have been, could have been and might still be. It's like looking at someone else's High School yearbook and noting the similarities as well as the differences and hearing the stories everyone tells.
But Country Music is not just a Suthun thing. It's listened to just about everywhere. Everywhere except my house. My wife listens to Heavy Metal. Screaming guitars, loud vocals - oh and she has every Joe Cocker Album ever produced. Country Music to her is like garlic to a vampire. That's OK, to each his own is my motto. She can listen to whatever she likes. It's a free country and some of the music she plays is also on my playlist.
My tastes are wide open, but I don't listen to music much anymore. It's because of the way in which people listen to music and ascribe 'fandom' to you for the action noting with fervor or derision the choices in your musical selections. The discussions go something like this: Someone turns on the radio and a song comes on. Let's say it's Elvis. It happens to be one of the songs I like, so I turn up the volume just a bit, maybe even sing along with the chorus.
"Oh you like HIM?" someone says.
"No. I like this song."
They respond: "I didn't realize you were a Elvis Fan..."
"I am most assuredly NOT."
And then the argument starts.
Let me make myself perfectly clear: I am not a fan of any particular person or band. I listen to music I like and just because I listen to a song or songs by any one person or writer, group or mainstream entity does not mean I listen to ALL their music or dream of meeting them, getting their autograph or having them over for dinner. Elvis did a couple of good songs - Songs which I like. So did Frank Sinatra. So did Aeorsmith. So did Leonard Cohen. (Who's Leanord Cohen? Look it up.) This enjoyment of a few of their pieces does not make me a fan of ALL music by said performer/writer/group/mainstream entity.
Perhaps this is why, during High School, I did not buy many albums. I could not see buying an entire album just to get the one or maybe two songs which I enjoyed. Still don't. I didn't go to a lot of concerts back then for the same reason. Why sit through a lot of songs I don't enjoy just to hear the ones I do? Why give the band my money to play songs I don't enjoy?
By the same token, being listed as a Country Fan puts one in a similar boat. Being in Country Western Country (say that three times fast) and someone finds me listening to say, Leonard Cohen, (you did look it up, right?) I know I'm going to get those strange looks. Traitorous looks. As if my listening to some other music genre may cause the downfall of western civilization, the city to be overrun with Nawthun Agression (yet again) and the Titans will lose all the games on their schedule. At the very least, it will keep me from being inducted into the Hallowed Halls of Suthun Acceptance. Which, of course brings me full circle in my Suthun Quest.
So, here I hide with my radio and my laptop. Listening to an eclectic mix of music when no one else is around to hear - and judge...especially not my Country-Western Lovin' Suthun Neighbors.