Happy Songs for Happy People
I don’t like talking about music. Whenever people ask me what I’m listening to, I tell them I don’t like talking about music and they assume I’m a music snob. Not so.
I just only like talking about music with people who own a substantial record collection. Personally, I only own one record (long story), because I move around too much and records are hard to transport. Also, I don’t have a record player, so what would be the point in starting a record collection?
Yeah, so people who have a record collection generally know a lot more about music. I’m not a music snob, but I only like talking to people about music if they know what they’re talking about. In general, however, talking about music tends to bore the hell out of me.
My favorite person to talk about music with is my buddy, Zach. Zach is like some strange fossil of 1966, stuck in the body of a 25-year-old in the year 2006. He has grown out hair, an expansive vinyl collection and, with that, an extensive knowledge of/passion for music. If his family and job weren’t situated in Chicago, he would most definitely be lying in the sand of Big Sur, belly up, with his headphones on and a joint in one hand. I once commented that receiving a mix from him is like getting a giant bowl of ice cream in the mail. Moreover, his compilations are like history lessons.
A couple years back, Zach was giving me a ride to a show and he put on an album by a ‘lil band called the Silver Apples. I’d never head anything like it. The Silver Apples sound like two highly intelligent carnival freaks having sex and when their first album (sadly, they only had two) came out in 1967, they were way ahead of their time.
Around the same time I was introduced to this gem, I had just started interning at Sub Pop. This was the wisest move of my college career because with that internship, I had tapped into an endless resource of free music and concert tickets. All I had to do was go into the office a couple hours a week, push some buttons on the copy machine and send out a couple of emails. In return, I got a bunch of free stuff and college credits. In the process, I learned a lot about music and met some long lasting friends.
One afternoon, I was filing the archives and I came across a band called The Vaselines. I asked my buddy, Jed, about them because I though it was the dumbest name for a band I’d ever seen. “You don’t know about The Vaselines?!” I think the entire office froze. Jed snapped his finger at Dean, across the cubicle, “Pass me The Vaselines.” Then he played the album
and I was head over heels.
The next day, I was going through Jed’s records. What’s this one, Television? He didn’t say anything. I think he was too fed up with me. At this point, everybody in the office already knew I had bullshitted my way through the interview and I didn’t know anything about music; the jig was up. I didn’t care, though, I was like Bartleby the Scrivener and I was not giving up that internship. I got my college credits after my freshman year, but didn’t quit that gig until after I had graduated and moved away.
Everybody remembers the first time they heard Marquee Moon. For me, it was on a rainy, spring afternoon, while I was stuffing five million envelopes for a new mailing of the Postal Service album. That album would eventually go on to put Sub Pop (back) on the map. This allowed the company to finance even greater, lesser-known artists, like Michael Yonkers, and, with due time, acquire a gold record (that Jed would later sell on EBay to fund his own record company). The Postal Service is not one of my favorite albums, but Marquee Moon, needless to say, blew me away.
It was then that I was introduced to psych rock. But like I said, that was a couple of years ago, and I have since run the gamut of psych rock. I don’t know what genre of music I feel like digging into now. This summer, when I went home to Nashville for three months, I caught up on all of the old country music I had ignored throughout my childhood. But Waylon Jennings didn't quite make the cut when transitioning to New York. The last band I was really crazy about was Dungen. They're Swedes. Gorgeous, gorgeous Swedes. I saw them in October, at the Bowery, and even though I never understand a damned word they were singing, since then, I haven’t been able to find a new band that I looooovvvveee. But it’s not because I’m a music snob.
I still keep up with music, still go to shows, and still listen to music every day/night. Although I think I’m the only one among my friends who doesn’t fervently download and search for music. I don’t feel like it, there’s too much other stuff I’d rather be doing. Besides, there are approximately four people who know what I like and I just wait for them to tell me about a band. Recently, I was pleased to be introduced to the music of Jens Lekman (another gorgeous, gorgeous Swede) and I think that Hot Chip is pretty catchy. I'm also looking forward to seeing Holy Fuck again and if somebody wants to fly me out to the Coachella festival to see Daft Punk, I wouldn't argue with that. But for the most part, I am sticking to the classics because they're reliable and I don't want to talk about it anymore.