I'll Say It Again
People who care about making sure their kids listen to "cool" music are insecure assholes.
I like Pandagon 99% of the time: but I pray this is meant to be totally tongue-in-cheek. Because if it isn't, it is deeply fucking sad.
It's one thing to try to expose your child to all kinds of music. It is another to tell her what she should or should not respond to. Children go through all kinds of phases and that is part of figuring out for themselves who they are, and what is the nature of their own deep particularity. There's enough concern about what is or isn't "cool" when you are a fucking adolescent, which seems to be the state in which these type's development ceased to progress.
I also get really creeped out and saddened by music criticism that is all about "I liked that album before you did" or "X band sold out" or the meta-fear-of-being-judged-by-the-Invisible-Hipster-Police-In-The-Sky that permeates this sad "letter":
Now, The Arcade Fire is really, really popular. I noticed this via last.fm. So I decided to see what the kids were into these days and discovered that I liked a few of the songs on their album “Funeral.” Not so much that I would brag about it, but I did like them. Nonetheless, I felt a bit embarrassed, and I felt a bit embarrassed at my own embarrassment, as it’s all too easy to gain hipster credit by sneering at what everyone else likes.
So I decided to waste (as it turns out) some of my emusic downloads on their new album, “The Neon Bible.” So far as I can tell, it’s just irredeemably sucky. At least I think it is. Have I just deferred my embarrassment for liking “In the Backside” (of Funeral) onto the entirety of this new album? Am I still caught up in hipster anxiety, even if I haven’t been hip in, oh, 6 years? Should I just delete all that Arcade Fire stuff and listen only to Brigitte Fontaine or Amon Düül until I’m respectable again?
Dude: JUST LISTEN TO THE STUFF THAT YOU LIKE! Let's all take a New Criticism style approach to this, and LISTEN TO THE STUFF THAT YOU LIKE. Personally, I fucking LOVE the Arcade Fire, and I love them because they express no shame in being enthusiastic about the shit that they love. It's kind of like the way Susie Bright would talk about the lameness of a "just say no" approach to sex: because "no" means nothing unless you know how to say "yes." And if there is nothing you value, nothing you love, nothing that makes you say yes I said Yes I will FUCK YEAH!! then you are just a scared and empty hater. If you hate the Arcade Fire, fine! But don't hate it because you think you are SUPPOSED TO or no one will LIKE YOU. Grow up!
I'm sure I will CRINGE at stuff our kids will like, but whatever they likes, hey, that is what they like. I might have to make some internal adjustments if my daughter wants to be a marketing manager listening to stuff I don't like, but hey, I have my own life and my own iPod. That's what being a grown-up is about.
This is coming from someone who thought 10,000 Maniacs was the greatest band in history when she was 15. I had Trey download In My Tribe [and let's give him yet another shout-out for being Most Indulgent Husband Of All Time, as he is the most musically sensitive-savvy person I know, in the way that makes this the equivalent of BrooklynVegan buying someone a bag of White Castle] a few months ago and put it on repeat for a while on my iPod while cleaning the kitchen, and laughed and blushed at how crappy it is -- at the same time I was overwhelmed with memories: "The Painted Desert" recalled staring out the bus window on a field trip, listening to "Verdi Cries" in the bathtub in June, eating strawberries, feeling melodramatic, wishing something huge would happen. I even snuck out of the house to go see them at Constitution Hall by myself. Then in 1989 I discovered the Sundays, and Harriet Wheeler was my new girl crush. I think the Sundays stand the test of time, and I still like Harriet Wheeler's hair, but god, 10,000 Maniacs sucks! And so what? Sometimes we like stuff and later on we decide it sucks. Sometimes we kiss people and later on have no idea what we were thinking. Sometimes we buy an embarrassing dress and then have to sell it on eBay.
I realized, however, during my kitchen flashback, that I had learned a TON about harmonies from those songs, and retain an eidetic body-memory to all the counterpoint harmonies I instinctively sang along to that crappy record. Not barren, listening to In My Tribe eighty-billion times: and part of life is knowing that you can't always know what is useful when it is happening. So get over it, hipster parents, get the fuck over yourselves before you fuck over your kids.