The Super (Musical!) Friends

January 7, 2008

I spent some time with an old friend on New Year’s (Rockin!) Eve who I hadn’t seen in too long. His name is Halfabottle Ascotch and he sometimes wears a Ginger Ale hat. To make matters even better, my girlfriend really hit it off with his twin brother, Otha Halfabottle (who on that night was wearing a taller Ginger Ale hat). To top all this off (with Ginger Ale!) the party we attended was also a lot of fun.

So fun, in fact, that I…socialized. Halfabottle always seems to bring the party out of me. He’s a swell guy. So swell, (in fact!), that when you wake up the next day and he’s gone all you can do is clutch your head and moan and groan and poop.

Sometime during the socialization (of medicine!), another happy partygoner asked me what to him probably represented a very simple question. He asked what kind of music I liked.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. It is a simple question! But here’s the problem…

I never much listened to music when I was a teenager. For about half of my time in middle school, I listened to rap. Because all my friends listened to rap. Because MTV was pushing rap (towards suburban white boys). Then I stopped listening to rap. Nothing wrong with it, I’ll still listen to a good rap song if someone points me towards one, but I didn’t like rap overall. I was through being a follower and a pretender!

My next step was modern/alternative rock, which was brought to me at first by WBRU, Brown University Radio. I started listening to WBRU (and a few other quality alt rock and classic rock stations) when I started driving. Something about the genre (its predilection towards anger and rebellion maybe?) appealed to the fetal eyebiter in my soul, and so to this day, though I don’t listen to much of that sort of music anymore, there will always be a place in my heart that will need to hear alt rock ever so often. Certain other saladeers are sure to mention this in the comments section if I don’t say anything now, so I should admit that my tastes in rock included many bands that smartier-pantsed music listeners would consider “bad.”

And therein lies the problem between me and the “what kind of music do you like” question.

Fast forward to today. Two of my best friends at college were music snobs (no offense boys, without your snobbery my current musical tastes wouldn’t be what they are today). My current girlfriend and future wife (I had to propose after she downed the scotch) is also a music snob. My younger brother, after years of not paying much attention to music, suddenly turned on the radio in very much the same way I did when I was his age – except his tastes are more well-refined than mine were at that age and he puts more time into it…and now he’s a music snob. Having never paid much attention to the pursuit of good music, I listen(ed) too all their suggestions and opinions and take/took them quite seriously. Because they usually know better than me when it comes to finding and/or appreciating good stuff.

In chronological order…

  1. Herman (Cakeater!) Furry Paws. Herman is pretty much my goto man for music related questions and suggestions, possibly to the annoyance/disappointment of the next three people on this list. My reasons for turning to Herman for musical information are quite simple. He knows and respects the rocky roots of my personal preferences. Add this to the fact that he knows more about more kinds of music than anyone I have met so far in my life (with the possible exception of #2), and I respect and listen to what Herman has to say – unless he says it too angrily. When that happens I turn him over to Halfabottle. They are well acquainted with one another.
  2. Chief Daily Salad. Some of you may not know this, but I had the privilege of living in the same room with Chief Daily Salad for two years of daytime (at night he canoodles with vampires). During this time, he and Herman engaged each other in more musical arguments than my brain can count – and my brain is a computer! For me, the arguments were more fun to watch than listen to, because they often had to do with some band or artist who I had never heard anything about. The point: Chief Daily Salad knows much more about music than his transit/movie/bibliophilic posts would lead you to believe. What’s great about the Chief’s music is that he tends to gravitate towards stuff that’s good and smart but also catchy and/or high-energy. I do not ordinarily gravitate towards energy. It’s too happy.
  3. Brother of ibiteyoureyes. Okay, so I knew my brother before I knew the two clowns from numbers one and two, but he mostly developed his musical tastes while I was at college so that’s why he comes after them on the list. The great thing about having him to go to when it comes to music is that our basic tastes are pretty closely aligned (like our genes). He keeps a more discerning eye on rock music than I do, which is cool because instead of listening around I can just swap shit with him like we used to do when we were kids (swap shit?!).
  4. Shepicksyournose. When I met shepicksyournose, she was swaying back and forth in a tight black cocktail dress to the tune of something “old and jazzy” while pouring wine for a customer. The dress was strapless and she’s got a great set of persuasions. It was hot. Needless to say, but say it I will, I became a frequent customer at the bar she was tending as well as a fan of all things “old and jazzy.” My wife-to-be also specializes in hippie music. Probably because she’s a hippie. Also, though they have yet to spend an extended amount of time with one another, I have a feeling that shepicksyournose could hold her own against Herman and/or The Chief in certain generic musical arguments. Add my Halfabottle and his brother to that party and that could be one hell of a time.

So why do I bring all this up? Well, part of the reason is that I want to start a musical war between all the people listed above – so that when it’s over I can be the beneficiary of the separate battles. The other part is that I just today realized how indicative that my honest, “no other cooks in the soup” answer to the musical taste question is of my student-teacher relationship with these people.

I answered Bruce Springsteen. The Boss.

He’s the most frequent topic of discussion when Herman and I get around to talking music. Chief Daily Salad (correct me if I’m wrong) likes his energy. My brother, like me, just plain responds to the man’s work. And my wife to be? Whether she knows it or not, there are parts of her exceptional sort of femininity sprinkled throughout the lyrics of some of Bruce Springsteen’s best and most intimate songs. And a good percentage of that femininity is probably made up of the things that draw her to her hippier, jazzier music. This last one is a stretch, I know, but…shut up.
So that was my answer: Springsteen. It was, of course, met with more than a few groans (why do I socialize!), but I was able to temper these by mentioning that I’ve also been listening to The Hold Steady. My interlocutor liked that answer, and I went on to discuss the band’s similarity to Springsteen with a few people without sounding completely as if I were making things up. And I owe it all to my Super (Musical!) Friends.

I have more to say about what’s in that last paragraph, but I’ll say it later. Until then, may music kiss your ears.

One Response to “The Super (Musical!) Friends”

  1. herman cakeeater Says:

    The hold steady / boss similarity is convenient because they do all sorts of things that he probably wouldn’t. Like their cover of “please crawl out your window.” I’ve always wanted bruce to cover that song (or something from that album). Well now he has! Kinda!

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