On Music. A Tragedy.
I took Ryan Opaz’ “On Wine. A Tragedy.” and replaced wine with music. Most of the article’s body is retained, which reflects how condescending towards others’ tastes transcends wine.
I’ve often had friends who know how much I love music defend their decision to listen to pop artists to me without prompt. This bothers me. Choices in music should be respected, not attacked. Music is good as long as you enjoy it.
I’m a music insider. I’ve met, or known, most of the big names in music today; and from time to time, have had the honor to collaborate with them. I’ve blogged about music for 10+ years and seen many concerts that I can’t afford. I offer this as context.
Music is pretty cool. Not only does it sound nice, but there is also a mystique about it. People want to know music so that they seem more cultured. Music is seen as something to figure out.
Here’s a secret: there is nothing to figure out.
I have a lot of friends who are not in the music industry. They listen to music every day and they like it. They don’t always know what they are listening to necessarily. Usually they have no clue about any back story to the music. Often they don’t know the names of the songs they listen to, but they listen to the music and have a good time. Shocking, I know.
When I show up for dinner they immediately ask me, “Ryan is this music good?” Looking for validation for their random choice. This person who, when I’m not in the room, listens to music and enjoys it for what it is panics the minute an expert enters, hoping to not be admonished for their choice. They have been taught that there is a correct answer to the question: is this music good. They have been taught that there is a right answer. That there is a possibility to get music wrong. Shame on us.
I like cars. I know almost nothing about cars. I can’t fix one thing wrong with my car other than maybe a stain on the seat or a flat tire if I was in an emergency. But I still love cars. I don’t really know any make or model numbers. I can’t tell you who owns which brands. I have no clue how the industry works internally. But I still love to rent a car and drive down a scenic road. Guess what, when I meet someone who knows a lot about cars, I never ask them if I liked the right one. I never ask if I was really enjoying that drive or if I was being misled. I don’t really care. I just enjoy it and that is it.
Here’s the truth about music. You may be just like me and cars. Someone who wants to listen to something that makes you happy. Who should care what you’re listening to? Only you should! Are you smiling when you do it? Are your friends enjoying it with you? Great. You did it right.
And hey, if you are that intellectual type who loves stories, facts and figures. A person who is out to discover something new and exciting and try to understand different facets of music, geek out to your hearts content. Want to take a class, sure why not. Go deep. Immerse yourself. I just ask one thing of you…
Please do not assume that your new found knowledge is somehow absolute. Don’t assume that your finely honed palate is better than anothers. Definitely do not assume that your ideal music is everyone’s ideal music. It isn’t. We all have very different palates, cultural histories, childhood memories. We are not the same. There is no perfect music. There is no right music.
The more we make people afraid that they picked the wrong music, the more we are doing a shitty job of sharing music overall.