There are very few things that bother me. As human beings go, I like to think I’m of the more laid back variety. I’m sure anyone that knows me would confirm this as fact. There are instances when I get frustrated with people, though. The biggest thing that gets me all bent out of shape is when I say something like “Oh, if you like this then you should check out xyz,” and their response is “Oh geez, they’re from before I was even born.” As if to say that anything that happened before the center of the universe (being whoever I’m talking to in this moment) came around is completely irrelevant. It happens more and more, and I’m really tired of it. If I make reference to The Beatles, the proper retort isn’t “I’m pretty sure my parents listened to them.”
When I was younger and getting my bearings as far as my musical taste, the internet couldn’t help me. Not yet, anyway (once Napster came around it helped me plenty). There was a lot of guesswork going on as I picked up cassettes to play in my Pontiac Sunbird. Sometimes people would hand me things, like a friend gave me Nine Inch Nails Pretty Hate Machine which I assumed I would hate. I popped it in and, lo and behold, I really enjoyed it. A lot of my time was spent at places like KMart or Wal-Mart, digging through bins and searching for anything that seemed interesting. I had just been introduced to the blues, so I dug into a ton of that. Those records led me to checking out some jazz records and so on. I didn’t like everything I bought, but I was always happy to hear something new.
I have a lot of fond memories driving around crooning with Frank Sinatra, bobbing my head to Charlie Parker, even trying out some classical tracks that I recorded to a blank cassette off of CD’s from the local library. It was great to be able to check out all these different things and build some kind of musical knowledge without taking music theory in school. I feel like we’ve lost some of that curiosity with the immediate access we have now. You never have to wonder about an artist or band because if someone mentions them you can just pull up Spotify and take a quick listen. That’s why Maroon 5 can completely rip off Michael Jackson and most people don’t notice. Or Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars can make a “new” song out of 20 other songs all mashed together.
You’re not going to like it all-in fact you may hate 99% of everything you listen to for all I know. The point is, you need to listen to everything to rule it out. The dumbest thing I ever hear people say is “I like everything except country and classical.” I know you’re dumb because I used to say the same thing. And maybe you really do hate country, or at least “radio country,’ which, let me tell you, is a far cry from the real country music. Modern country is just a pop/hip-hop ripoff with steel guitar and a little twang. Listen to old recordings by Jimmy Rodgers or The Carter Family and tell me it’s not a completely different genre of music.
I know you’re busy and you don’t have time to just sit around and listen to music all day. Wait, no. You DO have the time. It’s literally right there on your phone that you’re probably reading this on right now! You can just click play below right now and open up a whole new world. Maybe you’ll find a new favorite song. Maybe you’ll hear something and think “You know, I bet this is where that band I really like got that guitar riff.” Or maybe you’ll just loathe everything here, in which case, GREAT! Mark it off your list and find something else. Just try. More than half of my time listening to music is spent giving attention to things I end up not liking, but I can’t talk about intelligently unless I give it a chance. That’s all I’m asking for.
I’ve mixed in some new stuff with the old to give you some ideas about what you’re missing out on by only listening to the best bands according to Buzzfeed or Uproxx or whatever is cool right now.
For those of you without Spotify or in a country other than the US, here is the playlist I made:
Like Someone In Love-Frank Sinatra
Everytime We Say Goodbye-John Coltrane
That’s All I Need-Magic Sam
Body And Soul-Thelonious Monk
St. James Infirmary-James Booker
Hell Hound On My Trail-Robert Johnson
Moving To Brussels-Bhi Bhiman
Girl Crazy:Suite-George Gershwin
Paid In Full-Erik B. and Rakim
Doo Wa Ditty (Blow That Thing)-Zapp
Planet Rock-Afrika Bambaataa
Will The Circle Be Unbroken-The Carter Family
Violin Concerto in A Minor-Itzhak Perlman
Space Age Love Song-A Flock Of Seagulls
Your Cheatin’ Heart-Hank Williams
Lawyers, Guns And Money-Warren Zevon
I Will Take You There-Harry Nilsson
I Forgot To Be Your Lover-William Bell
Miles From Nowhere-Cat Stevens
In The Jailhouse Now-Jimmy Rodgers
She Was The One That Got Away-Gloom Balloon
How Blue Can You Get?-B.B. King
White Lines-Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five
Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat-Bob Dylan
Ballade De Melody Nelson-Serge Gainsbourg
Clarinet Concerto in A-Mozart
I am a Hologram-Mister Heavenly