On my television is an example of what the VH1 station does best; pack a bunch of low-rent comics and pop culture “experts” (whatever that means) into a studio and have them comment on a list of songs or events. That is exactly the type of wonderfully mind-numbing entertainment that The Top 100 Greatest Songs of the 00’s offers. But the other, more personal thing that this show presents to me is the fact that I am and have always been really out of touch with current music.
That’s something I want to change. Over the last few years I’ve taken steps to becoming more musically relevant. It’s still a slow process for me. The main thing I do is keep my ears open around friends whose musical tastes I trust. If they bring up a band they like I try to go home and listen to them. This method has turned me onto Best Coast, Alabama Shakes and The Black Keys, who I’m happy to say I actually listened to before they skyrocketed to stardom.
I won’t give VH1 the credit for bringing this realization to light because I’ve been thinking about my inept current-music radar for a while now. I’ve been wondering how I’ve drifted through high school, clubs, and the 90’s without ever falling prey to the radio station. I couldn’t name you a Nickleback song until I saw “How You Remind Me” on VH1 just now, although I could tell you that I know everyone on Earth hates Nickleback despite the fact that they’re immensely popular.
I was never much into the grunge movement nor could I claim to anything more than the slightest appreciation for early Green Day songs or their puss-punk sound. And due to my great love of rock n’ roll of yesteryears, I hold a lot of contempt for Nirvana even though I appreciate what they’ve done for music. Unfortunately, they’ve done nothing for music that I like.
To put things in perspective, it is well known amongst my circle of friends that I’m an immense, well read, intense fan of the last great hard rock band of all time, Guns N’ Roses. I’ll hear no criticism of anything Guns, including Axl Rose, who is arguably the greatest rock singer since Freddie Mercury. Seriously, they’re great. End of story.
You still there? Are you still reading? Hopefully you haven’t thrown your laptop into a wall, fused your keyboard with your monitor, or shattered your cell phone or tablet into a million pieces with hatred for that last paragraph. I’m sorry if it upset you. It’s important that you know that fact about me to understand why I’m kind of out of touch with music.
I was born in 1990, at the height of GNR’s fame, and only a few years before the original band lineup would split for good. Having been an infant when they were huge, it doesn’t make a lot of sense that I have such a strong bond to their music or can relate with their lyrics the way I do. The members of GNR’s original lineup are like dinosaurs in this post-grunge, pop-music kingdom that we live in today. With names like Axl, Duff, Slash, and Izzy; these band members are like cartoon characters from a strange, low-fi 1980’s TV program. The excess of Guns was everything Kurt Cobain and Nirvana looked to destroy…and succeeded in.
Let that last sentence soak in. Reread it if you have to. That is why I hold Nirvana in such contempt. They had a revolutionary hand in destroying what I love about rock n’ roll. And my personal beliefs aside, citing facts only, Nirvana never held a candle to the musical juggernauts of Guns N’ Roses.
As I got older, I pursued music with a hunger like any normal teenage boy wearing a black band t-shirt while growing his hair out long. Only instead of feeding off the influences of Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, or even Metallica (whom I’ve always liked) I looked into what inspired my favorite band. This turned me onto wonderful glam rock bands like the ridiculously underrated Hanoi Rocks and the phenomenal English band T. Rex. I downloaded lots of New York Dolls albums and had a Motley Crue phase after reading Nikki Sixx’s The Heroin Diaries.
Most of these bands are greatly unknown or highly forgotten these days. So listening to them and telling all of my friends about them only ousted me more and singled me out. I built a wall around myself to block out current music.
Now I’m ready to dismantle that wall.
I still love those bands. I’m just ready to drop my attitude that all new music sucks and add variety to my iPod. I’m taking input from all of my friends and now with this blog post, the entire internet community. I want to know who you like to listen to. I want to give new artists a fair day in court. I know what I like and if after a song or two I decide the artist isn’t for me, no worries. The only thing I’ve sacrificed is a little bit of my time. At least I tried.
With the flux of new songs in my ears, I’m discovering new feelings and connections with my music. Now I’m finding songs that speak to problems I face as a youth today, not dated problems or lifestyles from thirty or more years ago. New music is giving me new inspiration for my writings and new understandings of emotions. GNR is all about telling authority to “fuck off!” and metaphorically coming in the face of adversity. It’s an empowering message but with the angst brought upon by grunge music, listeners have discovered that it’s ok to not always act so tough. We can be in touch with our emotions and be sad if need be.
I’d like to find some bridge between both messages. I’d like to have that rank stench of cool on my cowboy boots and leather pants while rocking the understanding and worldly vibe of a flannel shirt. Most importantly, I want to listen to new music.