Friday, June 5, 2009

Popular Music


Over the past few days, I've been thinking about music a good bit. The past few years, some of my best friends have been avid musicians, outstripping my limited abilities handily. It isn't a competition, but whenever they talk to me about music, I simply nod and listen for the only words I know: "chord" and whatever number they say are added.

Anyway, one of the things I realized a little over a year and a half ago is that I can barely stand independent music. Now, independent music is fairly broadly defined, but if I say indie music you know exactly what I'm talking about! Now, it doesn't necessarily have to be one guy, one guitar, talking about his emotions with such deep metaphor that he barely understands his lyrics. Sometimes, it's more than one person. Sometimes they have a band behind them (when they record the album). Sometimes they have more than one singer! Sometimes they branch out to electric guitars, but these guitars are without the qualities that I hear from my favorite 80's metal bands (Metallica, Iron Maiden, Tourniquet).

Anyway, when I got to Clemson University, I realized there wasn't much of a music scene. There was a band in my hall... but they just annoyed me. There was music on my computer... but that's always been there. There was music downtown... but it was indie. Well, it was better than nothing. I started to attend small concerts when Tom Conlon came to my church my 1st semester at Clemson.

Now, I have nothing against Tom. Anytime he comes anywhere near where I'm living, I will attend one of his concerts. His concerts are intimate, and the relationships I have with the people that attended his concerts are the reason that his music means so much to me (in part). The other part is that, in some way, he reveals quite a bit about himself through his music, but in a sly way. It took me many listens to his catchiest song "Birds Fly" before I could deeply understand how he was singing what he was singing.

Whew, that was a poor segue. Anyway, I remember the exact moment I realized I and indie music were not on the best of terms. It was while I was watching Once. During the third or fourth song, I didn't even listen to the lyrics, I just scowled. It kept on going on, so I got up to go to the bathroom. After doin' my business, I returned to the movie. After a small furthering of the plot, I went back to my room and did checked something on the internet, then came back to the movie.

At the end of the movie, everybody in the room began exclaiming how moving the movie was, and how well the soundtrack blended with the storyline. Personally, I thought the soundtrack was tedious, overly mystic, and sometimes outright boring. Most of all, I thought that the storyline was clearly an excuse to make such a movie, but that didn't help in making a better movie. However, I didn't dare utter the worst of these thoughts, so I went with a more thoughtful one:

"I don't think I like indie music."

Because that's really what was at the core of this. It was an indie movie about the making of indie music, and I found it God-awful. However, I also recognized that other people would very much enjoy it, get it, and appreciate it. However, I was not one of those people. I don't know,

It's a very difficult thing to describe when you can't pinpoint why you don't like something that you know is enjoyable. The reason I didn't write this as a review of Once is that I have nothing negative to say about that movie that is concrete other than the music was clearly the point of the music, and I didn't think the music was great. I also had this feeling when I watched No Country for Old Men. I sat there watching it with my best friend, and neither of us got it or appreciated it. Deinitely the only flop of a movie that we've ever watched together. It was as if I was disappointed in myself for not enjoying a movie that was clearly well put together. It wasn't my fault I didn't like it!

Anyway, as a retort, about mid-February, the dcf band played the final song from Once. I was blown away. First of all, I didn't recognize the song. Second of all, people I cared about were singing it. Third of all, we were all encouraged to sing along. Lastly, it sounded a good bit different. I don't know if I believe some of those reasons I just wrote. But that's all my mind can pull out of it. I was astounded to learn from what movie the song was.

The point is, perhaps the packaging spoils the goods for me. I don't appreciate re-packaging songs in ways other than what I am used to (ala Moulin Rouge). If you put indie music in the correct package, I think anybody can appreciate it. With that being said, I don't think it's in the correct package.

postblog: If you're reading this, and you're an indie artist, please don't be smug in your music. It's quite annoying. Also, don't try to be funny, you're not Weird Al.