Music On Rock and/or Roll
posted by August 17 at 12:26 PMon
Earlier in the week Josh quoted me—out of context!—on the subject of rock and/or roll, the music that has defined… what? Three or four generations now? While it’s true that I don’t appreciate rock and roll, it’s also true that I’ve never made a secret of this fact. There are some rock bands that I actually like; I have the Beattles, the Stones, the Strokes, Queen, and Hedwig on my iPod (where is that thing, anyway?). But the most frequently played albums on my iPod are… Pacific Overtures, Company, Sweeney Todd, and Follies. All musicals, all by Stephen Sondheim, all wonderful.
One of my issues with rock and/or roll is… the electric guitar. I don’t much care for the sounds they typically make. Imagine, if you can, that you didn’t care for the sound of the french horn. Now image that for nearly sixty years popular music—the music of your generation, your parent’s generation, and your grandparent’s generation—was nothing but three jerks playing the french horn and one asshole on drums. It would get to you after a while, right?
Another of my objections to rock and/or roll is the volume at which it is typically played, which Kerri Harrop dinged me for in the comments. I have been know to ask DJs at Stranger events to turn the freakin’ music down—so that people can, you know, shout-and-talk instead of scream-their-heads-off-and-talk. I’ve also been known to get up on chairs in restaurants and unplug speakers when the music is too loud and it is my considered opinion that all live music is way, way too loud.
The problem with allowing DJs and musicians to set volume levels is that they’re all freakin’ deaf. They’ve been hanging out in clubs, right next to the speakers and amps, for years. Decades. And a comfortable volume for a DJ or a bass player is going to bloody the eardrums of the average human being.
But that’s neither here nor there. The point I wanted to make was this: Not like rock and/or roll frees me to like what I like. It never occurs to me to consider whether a band is cool or not. If I like it, I like it—and so rarely do I like a rock and/or roll band that, when I do, I’m not at all self-conscious about listening to their music openly, unashamedly. Like Mika. I like his album—“Life in Cartoon Motion-“-so, you know, sue me. And today at the gym I was treated to another artist I like… and a song that I, as a Catholic girl, particularly love: Billy Joel’s “Only the Good Die Young.”
Since I know nothing about rock and/or roll, I don’t know if Billy Joel is cool and/or lame at the moment, and I don’t much care. I like the song. I’m going to go download it onto my iPod tonight—or my boyfriend is, since I can’t get the hang of iTunes. And then I’m going to listen to that song six or seven thousand times in a row—that’s how people that like musicals listen to music. Over and over again, until we’ve committed it to memory.
But I will, of course, listen to it at a reasonable volume.