On Taste, Whatever The Hell That Even Is
Stop worrying about what you like. If you’re not having a good time, you’re getting ripped off.
“Rock ‘n’ roll will not necessarily stand; currently it seems to be jaywalking on its knees. But maybe that’s a good reason to dig out all those musty Beatles albums and see if we perhaps can find in them, if not the bouncy mysticism that once seemed our staff of life, at least a good time.”
That quote, by the way, comes from the great Lester Bangs collection, Mainlines, Blood Feasts, and Bad Taste, and it might be the best thing he ever said, the closest rock writing ever came to nailing the goddamned point of rock and roll, if not life.
Because what St. Lester here is getting at is what matters — whatever else you get from music, if you’re not getting a good time, you’re getting ripped off.
Now, a “good time” doesn’t have to be a dance party or a drunken orgiastic turn in a pit at some show in a shitty bar. It can be an hour to yourself, sobbing behind the wheel of your car, parked in some forgotten cornfield under a full moon. Lord knows, I’ve had enough of those. (Thanks, whoever gave me that Jeff Buckley b-sides/rarities/bootleg mixtape in 1999. I needed those nights.)
What matters, if you’re in the club, grinding against strangers, is the same thing that matters if you’re in the conservatory, caught up in countermelody and delicate vocal arrangements. It — art, music, poetry, fiction, whatever — it has to move you, push you along, and draw something out of you.
Embrace, with all fervor, the miscellaneous crap and cruft that rots your brains and brings you joy. That may be terrible advice. I’m sorry if it is.
Madonna and Phillip Glass aren’t as far removed as I once thought. And neither is diametrically opposed to the Ramones or Glenn Branca or Fela Kuti. It’s just music. We don’t need it to live, but it’s goddamn music, man. It’s not the air we breathe, but the air is certainly a lot more interesting with it there.
I don’t care what you like. I don’t care if you like what I like, or if you like what the Spotify charts tell you. I only care that you like what moves you in some way. I don’t care if you like it enough, or as much as I do. Just like it. Have a good time. Dance if you wanna, cry if you gotta, just don’t let yourself get ripped off.
If you’re going to drop a needle, drop it on something fun. For you.
Embrace, with all fervor (if you’re not clear yet, I mean all of the fervor you have), the miscellaneous crap and cruft that rots your brains and brings you joy (unless you hate it in an interesting way, which is pretty much the same as bringing you joy). Cheap beer, crappy TV, loud music, French New Wave movies, or a good craft stout, binge watching in television’s “golden age,” public radio, or Michael Bay.
It’s all worthy of your time if you want to enjoy it. All taste, as long as you’re enjoying it, is good taste, as far as anyone should care. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s too dumb. Or too pretentious. Or too serious. Or too loud. Or too silly. If you like it, like it fully.