Friday, March 16, 2007

"Charms to Soothe the Savage Beast"

Nothing seems more inappropriate to me than the "labeling" of music—branding it with some kind of genre, as if a title of rock or alternative or emo really tells you anything about what kind of music it is.

I'll be the first to admit that I don't know anything about music. All I know is how I feel when I listen to a certain thing, and I just don't care about all the useless, snobby information associated with it, like the year it came out or if it's actually the 10th remake of some long-lost soul song from the 50's. I just couldn't give less of a fuck.

But I do care about my response. That's how we all gauge our appreciation of music, isn't it? By our initial gut reactions to the sounds, because that's what music is: an audible, semi-tangible, emotional response. It's built on moods, not on logic or information.

So for as long as I can remember, I have thought about my favorite music according to my moods, because I just don't understand the significance of genres. No one really uses them anyway, not really. There are so many different types of music, these hybrid fusions, and a single word just doesn't cut it anymore. What does it encompass? "Sub-pop-emo-rock"? What the hell is that? I don't want you to pitch your music to me, for Christ's sake! I don't want to hear shit like "It's The Beatles meets Justin Timberlake," 'cause that bullshit is just gonna make me have an aneurism.

Music isn't supposed to make my fuckin' brain hurt. Either I'm gonna like your music, or I'm not. Get over it. So if you're around me, and we're listening to music, there's one thing you should know: If I ask you about what type of music you want to listen to, I expect you to answer with a mood or a season. That's r
ight. A season. Moods are so varied, so I usually put my favorite music into a particular season. Granted, I haven't "categorized" everything this way, particularly stuff I never listen to, like hard-core country and rap—what the hell is that stuff? It's not even music to me. But the main stuff I listen to is associated with seasons, and while that may seem weird, I say: Fuck you. It makes a painful amount of sense.

Brief example:

Winter (ie. mellow, sleepy music)
Rufus Wainwright
Norah Jones
Josh Groban
Damien Rice

End-of-Winter (ie. relaxed but semi-lively music)
Amos Lee
Teddy Thompson
Joshua Radin

Spring/End-of-Spring (ie. upbeat, general driving music)
Bon Jovi

Summer (day) (ie. very lively, energetic, fun music)
Panic! at the Disco
The All-American Rejects
Christina Aguilera

Summer (night) (ie. smooth, meditative music)
The Smiths
Smashing Pumpkins
Nick Drake
Iron & Wine
The Weepies

End-of-Summer/Fall (ie. bouncy but chill music)
Jason Mraz
Savage Garden
The Ditty Bops
John Mayer

All of this music is my favorite, but I will want to listen to one over the other depending on what I feel like that day. The weather plays a part, my feelings play a part. What I'm doing that day plays a part.

Music is so complicated, it's designed to affect us so deeply and fully, and I don't understand why anyone tries to make people like their type of music. That can't happen—it's impossible.

I'm happy to be blissfully ignorant of the technicalities of music. I couldn't live with my love for it if I didn't have this childish, overly-simplified approach to describing what it is for me.

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