Getting Over Music Hang-Ups

I feel like at every point in my life I’ve had some arbitrary musical exclusion only to have it whittled down over time. It’s true: There’s always been some section of music I refuse to associate with. At first it was classical music, mainly since that was what my parents listened to, and for a proper cultural revolution I needed to dispose of all evidence of the previous regime. And classical music was my parents’ artistic bread and butter.

I still haven’t succumbed to Brahms concertos, but the lines are starting to blur. If Explosions in the Sky were playing a concert composed of a solo instrument accompanied by an orchestra that looked and sounded exactly the same as Brahms Concerto #5 in D Major, I’d probably be excited and call it genius. If a concert pianist started playing ’90s electronica, as Maxence Cyrin does, then I’m not sure where my allegiances would stand.

» Listen to Modern Rhapsodies by Maxence Cyrin

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With each piano I hear in the mix, the line separating classical and brutish pop music has been blurring more and more for me lately. The new Joanna Newsom album by itself might be considered modern American classical if you consider “classical” to mean orchestrated composition and not old and classy, even if it is classy. Which it is. So maybe I do like classical music.

» Listen to Joanna Newsom live tracks at Milky Moon

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As a kid I would only listen to classic rock, manly because of the lack of options on local radio. Then once I found out there were a million other things besides classic rock, I hated it. Now I’m just ambivalent. Indonesian psychedelia, on the other hand, I’ve only loved.

» Listen to the Ariesta Birawa Group at the Of Mirror Eye

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One of the bands that made me come to terms with classic rock is Thin Lizzy. I originally despised them because on Fridays all the radio stations seemed to alternate “The Boys are Back in Town” with Loverboy’s “Everybody’s Working for the Weekend” ad nauseam. It took a while before I realized they had other songs that weren’t anthems to the end of the working week.

» Listen to Thin Lizzy at Pimps of Gore

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For a while I even avoided ’70s and ’80s funk, which long had been a staple until I realized most of the lyrics on my Bootsy Collins albums were about disco sex aliens. It’s only been in the last couple of years that I’ve been able to go back and face those demons. With some exceptions, I still steer clear of the stuff from the ’80s.

» Listen to Roy Ward at Funky16Corners

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So apparently there are exceptions to every rule, and it’s best to doubt any absolute limitations on taste will last. You may hate modern R&B and Country—but what about that one D’Angelo album? Or Mojo Nixon? And if you don’t account for the exceptions you might end up like that caricature of a music nerd I overheard at the East Village Kim’s a couple of years ago:

Guy shopping in store: “Have you heard this new compilation of French garage rock?”

Music nerd: “Really, I only listen to Czechoslovakian garage rock these days.”

I pitied and admired him at the same time.

» Listen to the Vagrants at Spread the Good Word

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Then again, any standard of taste I presume to have is eliminated by my love of the Gomer Pyle album. Shazaam!

» Listen to Jim Nabors at Welcome to Metropol

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