Guest Blog: Why Do I Hate Music?

[This is from frequent contribute, Larry Lootsteen. I have a feeling this may resonate with music fans of, shall we say, a certain age. – AC]

I don’t know if you’ve ever run into this, but I periodically go through spells where there is little or no music that grabs me, inspires me, intrigues or makes me want to jump up and move.  It usually only lasts a week or so and then something I click on or even hear on the radio (much rarer these days) breaks the spell.  It’s a cycle I go through on a regular basis.

Lately I have remained in this rut.  It seems like months since I was surprised or pleased beyond the norm.  Don’t get me wrong.  I hear music every day that I like.  What I haven’t heard is that ‘back of the neck tingle’ that makes go ‘OH YEAH’!  As an example I will use Weezer.  I am not a huge Weezer fan but I do like their music a lot.  They have a quirk that suits me.  So when I saw they had a new song out, I thought “Here we go”!

Sadly that moment left me a rather bitter taste in my mouth.  I played it.  I thought “Huh”.  Played it again.  And again.  I left it to the next day and played it some more.  I know that some songs take a while to grow on you.  Another day. Ummmmmmm…

Okay it’s a Weezer song that sounds like a Weezer song that sounds like every Weezer song.  That may not be fair but that is how I feel and where I am.  EVERYTHING sounds ordinary.  Everything sounds like something else.  Has the world run out of musical ideas?  Are there no unique voices left?  Is there no lyric that hasn’t been written and rewritten a thousand times?  Is that where we are at?

I don’t believe it to be true but it feels that way.  I am a U2 fan who has no faith their new album (Nov 4th (you wait and see!!) and Sept. single) will provoke any excitement out of me.  I am a guy who thinks maybe Bono has been living the high life in the south of France too much and has lost touch with his roots and his passion.  Prove me wrong.  PLEASE.  Has the Edge been so focused on the minutiae of his guitar work that he’s forgotten how to write the big song?  Have they run out of steam?

Or is it just me?

All of this got me thinking about cycles.  Not bicycles but music cycles.

We all know how this works.  When we are kids we love sugar.  That poppy, thick as syrup stuff that makes everyone else cringe.  Then in our later teens we start discovering something deeper in our relationship with music.  We start feeling the music more.  The lyrics might have something that connects with us.  I went through a not-so-unusual period of depression in my teens.  Elton John’s ‘Someone Saved My Life Tonight” played on repeat through this period.  And when I bought my first stereo when I got my first part-time job I was listening to Pink Floyd and The Beatles on my turntable. New Wave hit and my tastes changed again.  The weird and wonderful sounds of electronics but also the anger and exuberance of punk filled my bottomless pit of musical experience.  This period generally lasts well into our 30’s.

When the kids come along, life changes.  Priorities change.  Music is still the soundtrack of our days and we still like a good blast now and again.  We hold some influence over the kids as they grow.  My girls all remember and love the song Da Da Da by Trio.  They seem genuinely stunned that none of their friends today know it.  Dad seemed much cooler back then no doubt!  But kids reach an age and suddenly they have their own music (post kiddie-pop).  For many, of these changes in style seem overly aggressive and sexual.  Especially for a dad with daughters.  And we adults rebel against rap and hip-hop and the sex that seems everywhere.  What happened to the music scene?

It’s easy to forget isn’t it?  How our parents cringed at The Sex Pistols.  The fluid, angry sexuality of Rough Trade’s ‘High School Confidential’.  Duran Duran’s parade of hotties in their videos.  We are hypocrites aren’t we?  It really is no different.  Maybe a little more explicit at times but really the only thing that changed was us.

And the circle of our musical lives seem to follow this pattern.  The easy sweet of kids music.  The learning and exploration of the teens.  The connection and growth of the 20’s and 30’s.  The ease of staying with that genre and not really moving past it once we hit 40 (I have seen most of my age group either focus on the 80’s or digress into the 70’s and 60’s).  The shock as parents suddenly realize that the kids today are angry and horny.  It seems funny but looking backwards across generations, the pattern appears to be the same.  The anger of parents at the swaying hips of Elvis and the screaming and fainting spells of Beatles fans.  I have little doubt we could go back and find that parents thought that Chamber music was just crap and should be banned.

All this is my way of saying that the cycle continues.  I hope my empty feeling is just part of the cycle.  Music is like any relationship.  Hate is part of love and maybe I am just in hate mode right now.  The ebbs and flows are standard but every once in a while you find a period of extended lacking.

Maybe I should listen to ‘Someone Saved My Life Tonight’ for old times’ sake.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

2 thoughts on “Guest Blog: Why Do I Hate Music?

  • July 31, 2014 at 7:59 pm
    Permalink

    I see the cycle as 14-25, that is your music. 20-25 you make your late discoveries. 25-32 you stop keeping up on what is new and only keep up with what’s new in your music. 32-33 you are bored with the same old bands, and some of your bands are finished (keeping in mind, most of your bands were probably anywhere from 5-20 years older than you when you adopted them), You haven’t been keeping up with the new music and new doesn’t sound good.

    32-34 you make a decision to not be interested in music the way you used to be, or you go off and hide in specific genres (classical or jazz or blues, soul). 40+ you want something new but you don’t recognize anything about the new music. Now you can turn into an old guy complaining about how your music was the good music, or- start listening to new music and get back in the groove.

    There is a ton of great new music. With the perspective of age, I enjoy hearing the influence and the discovery new bands are making and interpreting in their music.
    All your music was derivative. All your music was a result of influence and discovery by your bands.

    I’m having trouble with my mental Top 20 All Time album list. It is heavily weighted with my music, but there are always new additions as the years go by (and the required deletions). I’ve stacked up several new music candidates in the past 2 years that should be on my list, and possibly 2 more this year alone (so far). The deletions are killing me.

    Reply
  • August 1, 2014 at 9:38 am
    Permalink

    I suspect every generation goes through some version of this. However, I truly believe our generation is unique because we were fortunate to grow up in the best era for music EVER. I believe we can now “bookend” the album rock era as a period that started with Rubber Soul and petered out in the late 90s, perhaps ending with American Idiot.

    I think history will look back on this era the same way it looks at the renaissance or the jazz age. Periods where there was a great explosion of culture in a short period of time fuelled by technological and culture change.

    Therefore, growing old musically is going to hurt more for us than it will for others… and yes the new U2 album will probably suck.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.