A Gem in Every Genre
One of my favorite silly lyrics comes from a Billy Idol song, Flesh for Fantasy where he croons, “Do you like good music, do you like to dance?” The second part of that question might be legitimate, but the first is over the top ridiculous. No Billy, I hate good music. I hate music of any kind. Still, that is a fantastic song.
Of all the arts, I find music to be the one most tied to personal opinion and in my experience that opinion is subjected more often to derision, mockery and persecution. Perhaps I just run in different circles that are sadly lacking in painters, sculptors and other other visual artists, but I have yet to hear someone say “Picasso is my guilty pleasure”, though I am not opposed to the idea that he might be that for many. I am sure there are many who would debate my assumption and I am more than willing to be wrong about this. I do think that musical preference is very personal and it always makes me giggle a bit when people (self included) are quick with the appalled face when encountering a friends musical leanings.
My father loved music. Growing up in the fifties and sixties he was present for the cultural explosion of Rock and Roll, from its infancy where most of the songs were innocent sounding, to the psychedelic songs of the late sixties. In all my earliest memories there is a musical background. I have a strange memory of my father cleaning the bathroom while listening to Neil Young. My childhood was full of the Beatles, The Rolling Stones. Creedence, Hendrix, The Zombies, The Kinks, The Who and so many others.
The first records I owned were 7 inch singles that my father had doubles of. I had a copy of I am the Walrus as well as Ruby Tuesday (the b-side being Let’s Spend the Night Together) . The vinyl was well used and worn. The songs began with a heavy hiss that permeated the length of the songs. When I first heard these songs on clean vinyl they almost sounded like different versions. I remember listening to Cold as Ice by Foreigner in my bedroom (in the pillbox house) on my own tiny turntable, one speaker and the widest needle arm in history. My first full length record was a thrift store copy of Destroyer by Kiss. How cool!
By the time I reached 7th grade my musical tastes had waded their way through some arena rock (REO and Journey) and recently found themselves bathing in the dulcent tones of Def Leppard. Pyromania was huge when I was in Jr High. At one after school dance, my friends and I banged our heads to Rock Rock till you Drop as we walked around and around the gym, never once taking a dance step (I liked good music but was afraid to dance, Billy).
It was around this time that I had my first experience with musical preference affecting more than what you listened to in your bedroom or with friends . The early 80’s brought with it MTV and because of the types of bands that were making music videos, many kids were exposed to new kinds of music. New Wave was huge in many places. In West Valley City, liking it was a good way to get the holy hell beaten out of you. Kids who openly liked The Human League, Soft Cell, Echo and the Bunnymen were often attacked in the hallways of the school, spit on and mocked. One story (which is most likely exaggerated) tells of a student being pushed or thrown over a railing at a local high school, falling ten or so feet down into the commons area. Where I lived, you liked metal (a watered down metal for sure, but metal all the same) or pop rock (where Micheal Jackson and groups like Duran Duran were allowed to reside). “Wavers” were a small minority, and while I loved this music, I was not brave enough or foolish enough to let that get out to anyone but my close friends.
For someone like me, who liked so many different styles of music it was hard to understand how anyone could limit themselves to just one particular kind. This musical animosity carried over into my high school years but by then I was a bit more assertive, openly liking whatever bands I wanted, but being just like everyone else, overly critical of music I didn’t like. I had a backlash reaction to 80’s metal. I made myself hate it. It was my response to being forced to choose it or face the consequences. I missed out on early Metallica, (which makes me sad) and really hated Guns and Roses. I don’t regret missing out on Poison, however.
My tastes have broadened as I have aged. I have a new found love of Bluegrass music and what I like to call “Real” Country (see, I still do it), which is a very narrow grouping of artists, few of which are alive today. I have rediscovered my love of metal, falling in love with lesser known bands in lesser known sub- genres like Burnt by the Sun, Isis (perhaps the best band EVER), Neurosis Kylesa and Boris (who everyone should listen to just because).
Lucky for my children, those old musical divides are not as strong as they used to be. As music had developed, and more of it has been made, trends move much more slowly and songs have staying power long beyond what they used to have. Radio stations play songs that are easily fifteen or twenty years old along side new ones. Many younger listeners seem more willing to try almost anything. There is a great deal to listen to and a great deal to be excited about, even if there are still too many of us ready to get a good laugh at the music collection of others.
I have barely touched on the multitude of great music out there, old and new. I have a list of bands as long as my arm to share if anyone is interested. Also, as I read other music threads, I see that there are hundreds of bands I have never heard of. So please, share them with me. I try everything.
In parting, enjoy one of my favorite covers of all time. I know, baby just how you feel…