Mar 152013

NOT the pretty boy wusses in question...

NEITHER musician is the “pretty boy wuss” in question, but hot damn they are pretty…

I believe I’m asking the right crowd, given the strong opinions in this forum: Do you ever felt conflicted about particular music you like because it’s impossible to enjoy it without complicated personal involvement?

There’s an up-and-coming indie band currently enjoying their moment in the SXSW spotlight. They’re derivative, but they appeal to my Cure/Cocteau Twins side, and I found myself whistling one of their songs this morning. I told Ladymiss Jade, “I like them, but I feel so conflicted because I hated that kid!” She smartly suggested that I launch this little op-ed concern.

Do you ever felt conflicted about particular music you like because it’s impossible to enjoy it without complicated personal involvement?

I won’t mention the band, out of respect, but though I enjoy their music today, I had their leader as a student. He was a pretty boy wuss. It drove me crazy, because I was always trying to support him to stand up for himself and fight back, but he’d just collapse in whining resignation. A pansy whose mom did all his fighting for him, and I was attracted to her whenever she came into my class to plead for him.

Cut to the present, and I’m listening, grooving, to his stuff, and I like it. I want to congratulate him. But him? He probably hates me too, because he probably has nothing but resentment for those days, and that’s the very thing that fuels his music, and now he and I have something in common (being a 90-pound weakling myself, when I was his age).

Is there music you would not normally listen to, but because you’re buds with them, you do listen and support them?

D’you see what I’m getting at? The question arises: Is there a performer you admire, but your personal association just makes it impossible to listen objectively?

Nor is Slim referring to any of these pretty boy wusses.

Nor is Slim referring to any of these pretty boy wusses.


  5 Responses to “Personal Effects”

  1. I’m very well experienced in this sort of dilemma, Slim. In college I crossed paths with 2 upperclassmen musicians who were already further along in their musical pursuits than I would be for years (and in the case of one guy, he had already achieved probably more than I ever would).

    Upperclassman 1, the relative wunderkind, had an excellent radio show and column in the campus newspaper. He had a great biting, humorous take on life. An upperclassman who was kind enough to serve as a guide of sorts in the ways of underground music and drug taking was good friends with him. Upperclassman 1 was shy but friendly enough whenever I complimented him on those efforts. When his band’s first record picked up critical acclaim I wanted to like it to support how much I admired the guy’s radio and newspaper work. I thought the music sucked. The music still stinks to my ears. I do like some of his productions for other artists and still enjoy reading interviews with him, but I don’t like his music. At least I still want to.

    Upperclassman 2, not quite that far ahead of me, was a wannabe Bowie type when I first crossed paths with him. He was considered an “up-and-comer” among the cool kids I wanted to be accepted by. I didn’t like this kid. I just didn’t like him. His whole act seemed like a put-on. He reminded me of the things I didn’t think were healthy about liking Bowie too much: the self-absorption aspects that a lot of Bowie fans seemed to take to heart. Maybe he was a fantastic human being, but I didn’t like the fact that he was a couple of rings higher on the cool-guy ladder than I was. His band got underway and sounded like shit to me. A few years later I knew his band was starting to get hip, but I still found them (and my memory of him) useless. A few years after that my band was breaking up while his band suddenly skyrocketed with an actual hit song. As they broke bigtime they threw off the scumbag-hipster Look of their indie days and started dressing in snazzy ’70s clothes, which my band had been doing years earlier. Obviously, they didn’t know my band existed, but I took it that they were eating our slice of the pie. This caused me great anguish. Even though their big hit song was something I could like, I didn’t want to consider that I might actually like it.

    I’ve got many other stories like that that make me look like the prick I really can be, but the worst might involve a band that got really cool and hip in the underground almost overnight. To their credit they had already established themselves by running a cool record store and supporting other underground musicians. One of the store owners was cool to me, but the other guys were complete assholes whenever I was in their store to browse, buy, or stock with my own band’s records on consignment. I wanted no business of their suddenly cool and hip new band, but one night I saw them open for Guided By Voices and they were fantastic. I liked them much better than the headliner. I still couldn’t bring myself to buy a record by the band, though, thinking of all the times I felt they were looking down at me as I browsed their bins for the kind of obscure records I liked that they probably thought was candy-ass kids’ stuff.

  2. ladymisskirroyale

    Oh, yes, there are bands that I like and want to like the people in them, even after I get evidence that they are jerks. And I can think of several people whose musical tastes I admire (or their bands are great) but would be bored to tears or really annoyed if I spent more than a few minutes of time with them. It’s like Picasso (such an asshole), whose art is magnificent but what a jerk! I just can’t enjoy his art as much anymore after learning more about him. I definitely have that groupie gene in me, that desire to know the artist, but it’s happened quite a few times that the reality of the person or band is such that I’m left with a sour taste.

    I prefer your other category: musicians who might be so-so, but because of a personal association, we listen to or rate higher than we normally would. There’s that warm glow I get just due to personal experiences that were shared. I still love Tricky because of his first album, but like him even more because he was very polite and friendly when we ran in to him once in a LA cafe, and because he came into the crowd and hugged me during a show. (Ok, he hugged a lot of women, but still…)

    I have a few musicians friends whom I like and continue to enjoy their music even if they are jerks. I just write it off to “the artistic temperament.”

    I don’t exactly know how musicians get sorted into these groups; I guess it’s just a gut feeling or a quick response to a particular incident.

  3. 2000 Man

    I met Dave Swanson at a record show. I bought records from him at Get Hip’s table. We talked about Paul Collins and I bought some great still sealed records that had bent corners and stuff but were just two or three dollars each (that box had some great stuff in it!). After a few minutes I said, “Hey, aren’t you in New Salem Witch Hunters and Rainy Day Saints?” I forgot he was also in Cobra Verde and Death of Samantha (all Cleveland bands). He said he was and we talked about shows I saw, that I’m sure he couldn’t remember, but he was really a nice guy and I like his music even more. I always worry about meeting people in bands I like because if they turn out to be dicks I’ll quit liking their music, and they may just be acting like dicks because they’ve been in a van for three weeks and just want to sleep in a bed.

  4. My buddy and I were at some music retailer convention (!) in the early 90s and he ran into Karl Wallinger of World Party. It was some kind of label-sponsored party and they were giving out all kinds of label swag including those day-glo ballcaps that were popular at the time.

    My buddy was half in the bag and kept calling Karl “Kurt” — as in “Kurt, man you rock! Kurt, man, World Party is one of may favorites — will you sign my hat?” Karl signed it “Kurt Wallinger . . .” Made me like the guy even more. . . .

  5. I can root for the “home team” even if they are not among my favorites (Collective Soul) and when I was at BMG I championed bands that I would not have been into otherwise (Dave Matthews, The Verve Pipe). No bands have had members personally turn me against them.

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