I absolutely love music. It is not only my job, but also my hobby and religion. Anyone that travels with me will tell you that I wear headphones around the clock. Occasionally this is self preservation, a way to disconnect, but mostly I just can’t listen to enough albums.
As long as music seems authentic, I’m a fan. I don’t care if it is Richard Wagner or Slade. I love trashy garage rock and sophisticated jazz. I like Frank Sinatra and Jeff “Stinky” Turner. I love Motown love songs and Lou Reed’s Edgar Allen Poe influenced album The Raven. In pop music I am a fan of singers first. I need to connect in some way with the singer. I need to feel they are singing with their soul and not just copping someone else’s bit off of the radio.
Sometimes people think I am a music snob, because I’ll slag off this or that, but I really am open to so many different kinds of music. I am just passionate about this stuff. Even if civilization broke down people would still be singing something and banging out rhythms, even if it was just on a trash can. You can tell so much about someone just by the way they sing.
I am reading John Lydon’s new biography, Anger is an Energy, and he is talking about how these TV shows like American Idol and X Factor are ruining singing by making it too much about singing correctly. He says they are basically making pop stars out of cruise ship singers. Singing really should be about nothing more than communicating some kind of strong emotion.
I can’t listen to most of modern radio. Autotune, unless it is used as an effect to purposely make a voice sound robotic, is killing music. It takes some of the humanity out of people’s voices. Life isn’t perfect. Pain and sadness and even happiness are complicated. Sometimes a great a singer like Sam Cooke can convey how you are feeling, and sometimes it is James McMurtry with his dry monotone delivery. Paul Westerberg hits bum notes sometimes, but he always gets the emotion of something dead on. There are no rules.
I love intellectual music, but music doesn’t need to be intellectual. It just needs to be emotional. So much of what is out there is just vanilla emotions. There is no pain or sadness or joy. There is just the imitation of life, sometimes with convenient product placements in tow. It is the song as lifestyle brand.
Music should open doors, not close them. As soon as music becomes too tribal, I am out. “I am driving my truck and waving the flag because that is what a real American does.” Fuck you! “Look at all these things I own that you don’t.” And fuck you too!
Tell me how you feel and what you think. Be complicated. Don’t parrot someone else’s emotions or thoughts. Be yourself. When I plug in my headphones, that is all I ask.