Music: a game of Truth or Dare
Ever found yourself reluctantly admitting to loving a band you just didn’t? Or praising the incredibly unique composition of your then-boyfriend’s all time favorite song? Or how’s about going so far as to blatantly make up the name of an artist just to outdo your indie of indiest of your pals?
What compels us to do so? To feel so imprisoned by the music status quo. For every discerning music fan knows, there exists a secret canon of artists/songs so profoundly life-changing, so undyingly, achingly important, that to merely question their place would send you spiralling downwards into the firey gates of indie hell. Believe me, this place exists; I’ve felt its wicked scorn every so often, having worked up the courage to state my honest to goodness opinion.
Unsurprisingly, the older I get, the easier this gets. But for a long painful, teenage time, I felt that oh so heavy, musical peer pressure weighing down on my tender soul. The necessity to agree with the kids older than you, the crushes cooler than you, and those very, very, so very serious, journalistic dictators of the world.
Many years ago, I was visiting a friend’s new sharehouse in Sydney. She – with her newly adopted gothic persona, clearly inspired by her also, newly adopted, gothic dick of a boyfriend – was in a room full of burning candles and all manner of curious bondage accessories lying about.
The two of them were gloomily discussing an array of depressing topics, to which a very predictable soundtrack of Nick Cave was playing as the stench of cheap incense accompanied. They spent a good 15 minutes or so musing over the power and glory of Cave’s The Ship Song, they played it for me over and over and just in case I hadn’t heard it the first time… over again, pointing out the significant, symbolic importance of the ship.
I mused and pondered too. I was 18, stoned and simply hadn’t developed the self-confidence or strength to weather the gothic storm and admit that quite frankly, I was fucking bored to tears and couldn’t for the life of me figure out what was so mind numbingly epic about this song. It was boring and it drove me crazy. I wanted to escape their Bondi Junction graveyard and find some melodic refuge in my prided record collection at home. At that point in time, it was all about Revolver. Tomorrow Never Knows was my Ship Song.
Which leads me to the next scenario. Beatles or The Stones? Are you out of your fucking mind? It’s a stupid question. You know The Beatles invented pop music. The Stones artfully and elegantly ripped of the entire Blues genre. Yet despite all that, the cool answer is still The Stones innit? Somehow the early boy-band sensibilities of The Beatles never quite escaped them, leaving your generic hipster with no other choice but to ignorantly murmur The Stones, regardless of how profound an impact any number of Beatles songs may have had on them. To say one doesn’t like The Beatles is less a genuine musical assessment and more a political statement. An immature, middle finger to the system, or some stupid crap like that.
To quote my rambling hippie of a dad, when seeking his reaction to this now age-old question he replies: “The Stones? What was their contribution? I Can’t Get No Satisfaction. Fuck that Keith n Mick, you grew yer hair, smoked expensive crack and sung about the cultural references of the poor black blues artists, but you really haven’t got a clue. Why don’t you “j j j j ust f f f f fade away”.
Here are some other deep musical truths I now feel happy to share, without the deep repercussions from my older peers or miserable ex-boyfriends.
1. Patti Smith, before you get crazy, I genuinely ADORE her. That is, as a cultural icon, a truth seeker and a poet. When it comes to her music, my truth is that I cannot stand her voice and I’m yet to find a song of hers I genuinely like.
2. I feel the same way about The Sex Pistols.
3. Flaming Lips. There are only so many adults in animal costumes I can look at in my life. I get that they’re enlightening and make you feel good. But doesn’t mean I enjoy their music. I find Wayne Coyne’s voice insipid and the songs are uneventful.
4. The National. They’re a dad band. Painfully monotonous and dull. And yes I’ve listened all the way through their records and I still feel the same.
5. Dinosaur Jr. Kill me.
6. The Jesus & Mary Chain- Black Rebel Motorcycle Club do it better.
7. Sigur Ros: now here’s one every one and their mothers will crucify you for not devoting your existence to. Just a collection of boring-ass ambient sounds with stupid vox over the top.
On the flipside, here are some bands I feel are infinitely worthy of their cult status:
1. The Velvet Underground
2. Sonic Youth
3. MBV (Loveless only)
6. The Cure
And if you don’t agree, well, I’m cool with that.
Words (and opinions) by Golden Lady. Confess your own musical truths in the comments section below: