Sunday, November 11, 2007

Rambling on my Grandmotherly Music Taste and Carrie Brownstein's Blog

My director is a gentleman in his early fifties, and he could not quite bring himself to believe that I actually listen to Suzanne Vega. He thought I was too young to remember Suzanne Vega -- to which I can only reply, "Thank you for telling me I am still young!"

Of course, I neglect to tell him I think of Patti Smith's "Dancing Barefoot" as the anthem to my life.

Or that I think of Patsy Cline's "Never No More" as my personal heartbreak song. (A fellow colleague -- who is only one year younger than I am -- thought my taste in Patsy Cline was a little "grandmotherly". I couldn't manage any polite way of responding to a statement like that, so I just gave her a flat stare)

I admit my choice in music can be a little eclectic -- I sample a lot, listen to a lot of trash --but along the way I picked up a few things I enjoy.

By my director's estimate, I am definitely too young to remember Sleater-Kinney -- but I do enjoy playing them really loud. There is a raw energy in their voices, in their guitar cries that tears me up inside. Sometimes, the music just hits you on a visceral level -- and you just surrender to its power. Damn it if no one else around you have heard of Sleater-Kinney. Even if your friends make fun of you for listening to "old-ladies-rock-bands" -- just let it go. You know what you like, and you know how the music makes you feel -- just let it be.

Regretfully, I have never seen Sleater-Kinney live -- which I've heard is spectacular. The band lasted 11 years -- a miracle in itself -- but even miracle has to end. But what happens to rockers who call it quits? Not everyone move on to solo careers.

I found out recently that Carrie Brownstein (guitarist/vocalist for Sleater-Kinney) is blogging at the NPR Music site. The tone of the blog so far feels suitably irrelevant, with a touch of self-awareness but maybe a little too verbose. But then again, don't we all ramble a little on our blogs? (Well, I do)

I have bookmarked the blog, oddly entitled 'Monitor Mix'. I suspect I will be a frequent visitor. I smiled when I read how Carrie Brownstein described her blog:

It aims to be an entertaining, insightful, and not too serious take on music and culture. I think fellow cynics and curmudgeons will relate and optimists will learn how to tone it down. Feelings of hopefulness will be encouraged but not nurtured.

With "fellow cynics and curmudgeons" I suppose that's how she identifies herself -- although I have always believed there is a difference between the real cynics (those poor souls who truly have zero faith in the world, and they are instead called "realists") and the disillusioned idealists -- the ones who are disappointed time and again, because in spite of their hard, bitter shells, they still hold a lingering hope and expectation that we can, and should behave better.

That said, I read what she wrote after she watched the film, "Too Tough To Die" and how it set her down a nostalgic spin on The Ramones and what they meant to her musically:

I sat on my couch watching this movie, listening to this music, and the songs filled me with a restless inspiration. How had I forgotten about The Ramones? I own nearly all of their albums, I might even consider them one of my favorite bands, but I rarely listen to them. Suddenly this oversight, this forgetfulness, felt disastrous. I think of The Ramones as a starter band, one you have to know, one you have to love, one you have to discover in order for them to lead you elsewhere. But then you go further away and sometimes you forget to ever go back. You find post-punk, you listen to Wire, Gang of Four, The Slits, you find reggae and dub. Then you embrace classic rock, first ironically, maybe at a karaoke bar, and then for real....Really? Really these are our favorite bands? The ones that got us out of bed in the morning on a sunless day? Sure, sometimes they really are favorites, for a day, a week, maybe longer. But watching the Johnny Ramone film I was reminded that for all of the wonderful and complex paths The Ramones' music had led me down, not too many led me to a place better or more satisfying than the point from which I started.

Who can say why we like a certain band, or even a certain book? Imagine if one day we really examine the music or books in our lives -- will we then be able to map the DNA of ourselves?

Brownstein wrote: "for all of the wonderful and complex paths The Ramones' music had led me down, not too many led me to a place better or more satisfying than the point from which I started."

Because the point where we started will always be home.

Ask me what music I am listening to right now and I will tell you about the new Radiohead, St. Vincent, Nightwish, and Bat for Lashes. But nothing will make me disavow Patti Smith, Patsy Cline, REM and all the other "old-people" music that I listen to. And I still want to marry Slash.

Ironically, a part-timer once called me a "teeny-bopper" when I confess to being a fan of Evanescence.


Ana S. said...

I guess my taste could be called grandmotherly too, lol. I like a lot of new music, but I also like Simon & Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Nico, The Beach Boys, etc.

I have a friend (who is 21, incidentally) who is a huge Sleater-Kinney fan. He was heartbroken when they broke up, and like you he never got to see them live. I'm going to give him the link to that blog. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

i think your music taste is cool! and whats very cool is that you're so open-minded about music.

Anonymous said...

I played Evanescence at my wedding. What does that make me? Lao Hiao?

darkorpheus said...

Nymeth Those young runts don't know good music when it hits them. These are the evergreens - the real deal.

But thank you, for telling me about your 21 year old friend who loved Sleater-Kinney! NONE of my friends even know who they are. It's so isolating to have such great taste! :D

Jean Pierre Awww, thanks, JP. Open-minded about music maybe, but so obstinate about other things. ;p

But it can be difficult when people asks what music you like, and you can't actually give them a definite answer.

Ah Leng I'm a tenny-bopper. You? You're just an old married woman. Who plays Evanescence at their wedding?

Eh. Was I the one who suggested "My Immortal"?