Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Questlove, John Mayer and Radiohead?? - coming to my own decisions on music!

“If you’re part of the segment of hip-hop that wants to be seen as thoughtful and progressive, then you don’t readily admit that you like Jay-Z’s Blueprint. If you’re part of the segment that needs to keep its thug-life street cred, you don’t readily admit that you like Things Fall Apart. What a shitty way to go through life, hiding your love for music so that people don’t think the wrong things about you.”

“It’s clear to me that there are certain critics who feel that they can’t champion The Roots because it somehow exposes them-and here I’m talking mainly about middle-class black writers. It makes me sad to write this, but it also makes me sad to see it: some of them, I have noticed, will purposely bash us for what they perceive as a lack of street credibility- not our street credibility, mind you, but the street credibility that they get (or do not get) from endorsing us.”

“Am I embracing Radiohead based on a genuine love of it, or is it a survival tactic because the band carries a certain amount of critical cachet? This question has been on the table since Things Fall Apart, and it’s not coming off the table. There are new rock records I love so much these days, but I’m gun-shy about saying so. Does that make sense? Is it all in my head? You’d think that at this point there’d be an understanding that I’m not faking, that I love music of all kinds. But there are so many signifiers whizzing around.”
                                                                                                                 - Questlove

These above quotes were taken from Ahmir “Questlove” Thomson’s new memoir titled Mo Meta Blues. Questlove, for those of you who don’t know him, is the drummer for the hip-hop band The Roots, and The Roots is the house band on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Also, he is an avid record collector and his knowledge of music is uncanny. Just YouTube some Questlove interviews and see how he is an encyclopedia of music. This book describes his musical family lifestyle and art school upbringing, the foundation for his music knowledge.

Back to the quotations above…

Reading these I could swear that I was reading my own thoughts on paper. I, too, am guilty of falling for these ridiculous guidelines of liking or disliking bands because of what the “cool people” think. Now I try my best to steer clear of this thought process and develop my own opinions of bands and artists which is often a tough, uphill battle. I am always defending my taste and explaining what makes me see the music differently, but I guess I choose these battles. The albums that I listen to and enjoy are my business, and at the same time…. I strive to defend what I like (Hell.. I write about it here for all of you to read).

A great example of me falling into this ridiculous way of thinking is when I picked up the new John Mayer CD this week called Paradise Valley. I automatically thought that it was going to be junk. But, why? That’s what I can’t figure out. Why did I automatically expect the worst? I have one prior album from John Mayer, his debut Room For Squares. I loved that album when it was released, so why didn’t I expect this to be great? I was expecting the worst simply because I was sick of reading about the guy in tabloids. Stupid! In my defense, at least I smartened up and decided to give it a chance.  

Paradise Valley is easily in my top 5 of 2013 thus far. It features eleven awesome mellow songs that are filled with talented guitar and clever lyrics. He even seems to be singing more comfortably, with less rasp added to his voice. It almost seems like this is the first time we really get to hear John’s true voice.

Another example of this is Radiohead. I hated Radiohead for most of my life, yet I wouldn’t recognize one of their songs if it came on the radio. It seemed that so many Radiohead fans took on this “music snob” persona early on and many of them judged so many other people’s taste in music. They thought that somehow their own taste was right and everybody else’s was wrong. It was in spite of this that I chose to hate Radiohead right out the gate. Who the hell do these people think they are? Their taste is above ours? They think they know something we don’t? The only person who suffered from this silly personal boycott was me. Recently, I picked up OK Computer at a thrift store for a dollar, finally putting my hatred to rest and figuring I would see what the fuss was all about. Of course I liked the music! It’s a great album and rightfully loved by many, so this silly protest I was having with myself cost me many years of enjoying a great album.

So should I be ashamed of liking this John Mayer album because it’s not cool by most music connoisseurs? It seems that once an artist gets even a little bit of success that they appear as sellouts to music snobs and lose all credibility. Why should people be punished for success? Should I eliminate Radiohead from my music library because of a few annoying diehard fans? Why should I risk missing great music in spite of others? I proudly stand behind this new John Mayer album and will finally admit that Radiohead is a great band. If you dislike music simply because you don’t like the music, fair enough. But to dislike it because of what other people think just makes no sense.


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