SHE SAID: Mainstreamedness

July 23, 2010

Samuel Johnson would have a field day with you.  On the one hand, yes language evolves and adapts, on the other, no.  You can’t throw a word and some suffixes together and celebrate your literary inventiveness.  Perhaps Jeremy has taken on a new occupation penning Sarah Palin’s speeches.

The main issue here isn’t whether or not a fan was a fan before the hype, but more whether or not the appreciation is genuine or not.  Because I have no issue with someone who genuinely appreciates something regardless of when they discovered their passion.

Passion is contagious and beautiful.  I love watching my friends enjoy something or do something they enjoy.  And it is our love of songs or movies or sports and our desire to share that love with those around us that leads to mainstream appreciation, which is what most who are producing something want.  I love my brother’s passion for the Red Sox, day in and day out.  I love my son’s obsession with Indiana Jones, even though the first movie’s came out when I was in grade school and Indy’s so mainstream that xBox and Lego are cashing in on his fame.  And I am not going to tell my boyfriend he can’t like the Kings of Leon because I introduced him to them once their third album was out.

I do, however, get annoyed by those who are fans only because it’s cool to do so.  The girl in high school who claimed a lifelong love of Led Zeppelin shortly after she realized her crush was a die-hard fan annoyed me.  The sports fan who only watches during the playoffs/finals/world series and won’t shut up about it makes me feel cheated.  The woman who buys not because she likes the item, but because she knows it’s “in” depresses me, as does her endless and ironically fruitless journey.  The friend who will only listen to small bands that have yet to go mainstream loses credibility because his appreciation is tainted.  And, making me listen to crappy new bands, each trying not sound like the band that influenced them, gets old quickly.

The real fan, the audience member who can enjoy as if he or she was the creator, the person ahead of the mainstream, on the cutting edge – is it all a quest to define ourselves as something beyond average?  Are we more special if we can truly enjoy or appreciate?  Better?  Cooler?  Smarter?

I think it would be fantastic if people didn’t feel the need to fake or build up passion.  Ultimately, however, I feel guilty judging and commenting on whether or not someone’s appreciation is genuine or not.  Do you have to feel like Bob Dylan is the eighth wonder of the world to be able to enjoy his music and message?  Do you need to have considered asking your girlfriend to marry you on the big screen at a Sox game in order to be considered a real fan?  Maybe Jeremy and my frustration over enjoyment and the genuineness of said enjoyment is only our juvenile refusal to share a favorite toy.

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SHE SAID: Our Song

March 12, 2010

I think I have mentioned my first boyfriend on here before.  Yes, he was real.

We held hands and spent hours talking on the phone (there was a point in time where I was not only passable, but downright awesome on the phone and apparently that is a talent that can be lost without proper practice) and right after I found out that a girl in my class had slept with someone, I totally put out and let him kiss me.  For hours.  It was toe curlingly awesome.  I was in ninth grade.

We had a song.  One, by U2.  I didn’t pick it and at the time I realized it wasn’t the cheesiest song ever (Richard Marx, you take that award) and so I agreed that it could be our song.  These were the tough decisions we were making at the time.  He was incredibly cute and wrote out all the lyrics on a one dollar bill.  Anyway ….

That was the last time I had a “song” with someone.  And while I don’t think they are incredibly lame, I do think it’s lame to squeal ohmygoditsoursong if you’re not in middle/high school, like I said, the last time I had a song with someone was in middle school. And having witnessed this recently, I got to thinking.  Liking a song, feeling like the lyrics really speak to your situation … that’s all well and good.  But it’s far more interesting how quickly the opening bars to certain songs can being you back in time to incredibly specific moments than it is to search out a song with appropriately cheese lyrics that you can hammer down as “yours”.

It’s amazing how music can define parts of our lives.  Ie: that one song you identify with high school, the summer after you graduated from college, your first dance in grade school, jumping on the mattress with your best friend in high school while you both sung at the top of your lungs (were we too old for it?  Sure.  But that didn’t stop us from doing a lot of stuff that I look back on fondly).  Steve Miller Band reminds me of mixes Daphne and I made in the early 90’s where Steve and his cohorts made up 65 – 75% of the mix, accompanied by some eye rolling on my brother’s part.  Whenever once of their songs comes on, I’m 12, sitting in the back of her mom’s impossibly cool baby blue Rabbit and headed to the beach.  Pearl Jam’s Jeremy off of Ten and Nirvana’s entire Nevermind album …. ah that was an awesome, awesome summer.  Anything by Traffic, and I’m 18, cruising in my metallic purple ’73 beetle (that was back when cars still had tape players – I have a plethora of bootlegs all on cassette … what a waste).  The winter after I graduated, I moved up to Vermont and spent the winter coaching skiing and practicing drinking.  We listened to Ja Rule almost exclusively.  I know that in a few years when I hear the Kings of Leon’s Only by the Night, I will think back to the summer of 2009.

And so, while not the finest sampling of artists, or songs, these are some of the songs that, when I hear them, make me leave the moment, be it only for a moment, and who knows why they stick in there so persistently, but I kind of love it that they do.  They are, perhaps, my songs, even though I am slightly embarrassed at the poor selection (why couldn’t I have some more legendary artists in there to keep Eddie and Kurt company?).  And while I share the memories with others, I have yet to make them commit to calling them ours.

I want to hear what music defined other people’s past…