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Music I Ought to Love, but Don’t

Posted by purplemary54 on January 5, 2013

I really wished I liked Jack White more.  It’s not just because he’s absolutely everywhere, although he does seem to have his grubby little hands in virtually everything these days.  And it has nothing to do with the fact that I think he’s a pretentious git most of the time; I think being a pretentious git comes with the territory he inhabits.  He is undeniably, monumentally talented–quite probably a genius.  I own a couple of White Stripes albums, and I enjoy the music very much.  (“Seven Nation Army” is like a revelation, one of my favorites by them.)  But when I listen to Jack White’s music, I don’t connect to it. In a very real sense, he doesn’t speak to me.  It’s good music.  Hell, it’s great music.  I know objectively that with his talent and style, I ought to be half in love with him; but I just feel cold.

I don’t mean to pick on Jack White in particular.  He’s just a ready example of Music I Ought To Love, But Don’t.  I know that my life will be enriched by this music, that I might even be a better person if I listen to it.  The Critics tell me repeatedly that I should run out to my local, independently owned music shop and buy it now.  My collection will be incomplete unless it includes all these CDs (or even better, vinyl LPs).  There’s a lot of artists that fall into this category.  Arcade Fire.  The Decemberists.  Pink Floyd.  The Doors.  (Aside from a couple really tight singles on the radio, if I never hear another Doors song again, I will be a happy, happy girl.)  I could probably list a lot more if I thought about it, but I don’t like to think about it.

I’m reading a great book right now, a gift from my BFF, Mr. BFF, and their Amazing Child.  Love Goes to Buildings on Fire is about five years in New York City, from 1973 to 1977, that changed the musical landscape irrevocably.  Everything from disco to punk was being developed and musical landscapes were being rewritten.  There’s a picture of Patti Smith, Lou Reed, John Cale, and David Byrne performing together in a club in 76; I almost fainted at the thought of all that musical greatness in one place at one time.  As I’m reading this book, I’m learning and relearning about music that is truly great and revolutionary.  I’m also getting ideas of things to sample on itunes–and I’m finding out that I don’t like some of this music that by all rights I should.  Take Televison, for example.  Tom Verlaine’s proto-punk, proto-New Wave rock band is terrific; I can hear the roots of a lot of music I love in Marquee Moon.  I just don’t want to listen to it.

Will I feel different about all this music eventually?  Yeah, probably.  It’ll become must listen to on my iPod.  Or not.  I don’t know.  I know it’s great music.  I also know Mozart and Ella Fitzgerald are great, but I don’t listen to them, either.  Music is something that has to connect with me somehow, touch off some emotion or memory.  (That’s why I love so much bad 70s music; it reminds me of my childhood.)  That’s how it is for everyone, I suppose.  Until a song clicks for whatever reason, it’s just noise to me.

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