Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Because Dan Actually Tries...

...I'll post an email conversation between us based on something i wrote. Besides Matt's Islamic threats, no one ever comments anymore....

Dan:

Hey Brian.

About your rant... it's funny because I feel the opposite about track
info. Definitely nice to see the names of the songs, but I don't
really care about who is who and how long it is and who produced it.
At the same time, I would be among the first to read/enjoy/appreciate
that info if it was there (if not in the CD literature, I'll go online
and find out as much as possible about artists I'm into). I guess I
just don't think it's necesarry to say certain things, and I kind of
prefer the mystery. Knowing too much can somehow take away from it.
Like learning how to play a certain song on guitar can take away some
aspect of the intrigue, you know? But then again, I certainly like to
know if the person whose music I'm listening to is a Bush supporter or
something...

Like Beck being a scientologist.. not that I love Beck (minus Sea
Change) but that made me lose respect for him. How could it not?
Agree?

Brian:

I think your argument is very possible. The best
example that comes to mind, for me, is "Plowed" by
Sponge. When i was in middle school, i fucking LOVED
that shit. LOVED it. Once i actually saw the lyrics
i was like "this is it?" I totally understand the
appeal of mystery and "ignore the man behind the
curtain" aspect of music, but i think as i get older i
see music less as this abstract set of notes and words
and more as a process. A friend once told me that she
could never date another person in her field of work,
because she could never be impressed by someone who
did something for a living that she could do. I have
the opposite approach to music lately. I don't want
to hear Yngwie Malmsteen because i couldn't even come
close to approximating that - not just in skill level,
but in purpose - i don't wanna hear some guy
masturbating all over the fretboard. I see music as
something that i love, and that i am a living part of
(warning, it only gets more surreal and pretentious
from here).

The aforementioned DOG IN THE SAND by Frank Black for
instance. The whole record was recorded live to
2-track tape, no overdubs. So half the fun for me,
after really digging the songs a few times, was to try
and guess what the exact instrumentation was, and who
was playing what. I want to know how, in the
beginning of the song i can clearly hear six
instruments (elec. guitar, acoustic guitar, bass,
drums, electric piano, pedal steel guitar) can at the
end sound like there have been subs (i now hear a
second electric guitar)? Well, consult the liner
notes - they didn't cheat and overdub it, the pedal
steel player switched to lead guitar mid-song.

I like doing that because i can play the guitar, and i
can listen to it and marvel at the complexity of the
arrangement when a guy has to literally stand up and
change instruments. Or listening to a jazz record
with a great saxophone solo - i don't play the sax,
but i know how it works - the reed vibrates, yadda
yadda, but i'm interested in the process of making
music because i love to make music.

I don't know if there is a chef out there who is at a
wedding, tastes the Prime Rib and says "i don't even
care how this is so good, i'm just going to enjoy it."
No way! He's going to pour over every bite and get
the recipe right in his head. That's how i look at
music. I don't just love it because of the songs
(though i do love the songs), i also love the process.


Part of the reason that i respect the punk rock
do-it-yourself movement so much was that the message
was "hey, we're not Led Zeppelin - we don't write
songs about wizards and have smoke machines and have
mystical symbols for everyone in the band - we're
three guys from _____ who feel like there isn't a good
band that has hardcore style drums with slap bass and
acoustic guitar, so we created it." It was about
being individual and empowering people to do it
themselves that fueled that whole scene. And even
though i was far too young to feel that impact when it
happened, that ethos is what drives pretty much
everything i want to do musically.

And yes, that means at times our idols come crashing
down. It does suck that Beck is Scientologist, but
why doesn't it suck that Sufjan Stevens is an
Episocopalian? I mean, it is clear why (the Episcopal
church wasn't founded on a series of sci-fi novels),
but for some people that may be an equal turn off, and
that's ok. Sometimes we need to test what we can
accept as good art because of personal biases. For
instance, how would i react if tomorrow Limp Bizkit
put out a great song? I mean, a "The Oaf" by Big
Wreck great? Could i get past my biases and enjoy the
song? The same thing has to be asked when it comes to
religion, political affiliation, who they are/have
dated, etc.

In closing, i'd rather an artist give me all this info
for me to choose whether or not to delve into. This
is a great tie in to the Bush reference you made.
Even if the news is depressing (global warming, fucked
up war, phone tapping), i want the ability to get that
information if i want to. And if i want to be
ignorant, i can ignore it. There are plenty of albums
i have where the liner notes stay unread. But if i
really love an album, i want to understand not just
the songs, but the process that went into them, even
if i know i am playing with fire and may indeed burn
down the temple of song that i love - for me, it's
worth the risk.

Dan:

First of all, your refernce to "The Oaf" is hilarious. That is a
Great song.

If I really love a song/band there is no way I could not look into
them and find out more and more. I feel that I NEED to know. It's
like saying "Brian, inside this box is a photo of the second shooter
on the grassy knoll.. DO NOT LOOK." Do you want to know the truth or
roll with what you're told? It really does make a difference to me.
Me and you have talked about this before. I am going to need to bring
up Jose again in a second. Let me tell you a quick story, I'm not
sure if I told you before. I was at an open mic and a string broke
right before I was going to play, so I asked this guy who just played
(and whose mailing list I just signed in his presence) to borrow his
guitar.. he said no! I can't get over it. I'm not going to get into
it, but I can't forgive it. The point is that it would be really hard
for me to like this kid's music now (he's actually very talented)
because of how he treated me. Maybe he lent it to someone once and
they dropped it.. whatever. Guitars should be played, not babied.
Cars should be driven, stamps should be mailed, matches should be
burned. I really really wanted to tell him to take me off his list
because I don't share my email with people who don't share their
guitar. Jose is more forgiving, and it doesn't bother him as much. I used
examples of someone's character effecting what you think of their
music (I'm sure I cited Beck) and I said to him what if Blackbird was
"I rape babies in the dead of night"? haha that would change the mood
a little, no?

But I must say that if the music is really really good, then I don't
care who/what the artist is. Can't be a coincidence that we hate Fred
Durst AND Limp Bizkit. I have many guilty pleasures, songs that I
"shouldn't" like (according to my tastes and catalogue) but I do.
Great example is this one Linkin Park song that I think is really
really good. haha don't tell anyone!!

Brian:

I just did.

1 Comments:

At 7:54 AM, Blogger Erin said...

Man you guys have such deep serious conversations, all I email my friends about is gosip about Britney Spears and getting drunk on Friday....

 

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