Paul’s Significant, Good And Terrible Songs

I think of important bits of music related to times in my life, not really based on if they are good. For instance, a very important song for me, which is a completely terrible song, is Yes’ “Leave It” from the album 90125, which no one remembers because of that awful Beverly Hills show.  There were 23 videos. It involved big themes. It had Jon Anderson singing words which made no sense. It mentioned a danger zone.

But more importantly, I listened to it all summer when I was – what – 14 and was at home reading the foundation trilogy. I will forever match this song with Hari Seldon and his ability to tell the future, and that nasty nasty mule who screwed it all up. And I don’t care if you don’t know what I’m talking about. I have a long history of liking terrible music, too. Which makes me think an interesting question could also be “What do you wish you had forced your 17 year old self to listen to” (Pet Sounds) or “stop listening to” (NOTHING!) But it goes on. I mean, for a while, I really liked Powerslave, the Iron Maiden album. I even saw them live. I mean, listen to “Aces High” or look at the cover! But this is terrible music. For some reason it caught my ear the first year of college though.

That said, there’s some music which is attached to times for me which isn’t terrible. When I was 15 and at ‘nerd camp’ (whatever), someone told me I should like Hüsker Dü and played me Zen Arcade. As they say, there was something I learned that day. I still listen to the album on headphones or when J isn’t home. And I don’t remember the people who played it for me but it became part of my life.

Music doesn’t stop attaching itself to times in my head, though. The thought of one particular place, when I was just about to get promoted, makes me think of telling everyone to listen to Arcade Fire’s funeral. When I moved back to New York I couldn’t stop listening to Crash by Dave Matthews, although that’s one I certainly did get over. And living in Berlin is equivalent to Homogenic, an album I still love.

Not the type of funeral we usually contemplate on

And then, of course, there’s the music that, as I’ve grown up, I’ve found and put in the camp of “too good to really listen to”. Like side two of Abbey Road. Or side anything of Pet Sounds. Or Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. I mean, come on. My greatest musical achievement will look like specs before these actual things. But if you spend your whole life thinking you haven’t written the seventh symphony, then you won’t get out of bed (which actually happened to BW after pet sounds).

And the music that, as I’ve grown up, I’ve found and put into the camp of “too good to not listen to, but really not that good”. The canonical example of this, I think, is Sweet Child ‘o Mine. I mean, come on. What an amazing song. If you don’t like it, you don’t like music. But it’s not brilliant. It’s just, well, you know, brilliant.

Of course, I stuck to rock (except the 7th symphony ref, because, you know, good) and I could geek out about lots of other stuff. And, looking at this list, it woefully undervalues enormous swaths of music I like (I mean, I didn’t even mention 2112!). But you know. It’s raining. J’s in PA. I had a drink after work. So it’s sort of what I wanted to write.

FriendOfTheBlogPaul, August 2013

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