The weather was perfect.

We rode squished in the back seat of Carol’s car to the park.  Not that the park is not within walking distance.  Just, it would be convenient to bring Carol’s car and have a ride.  You know.  We played frisbee.  By the time we were all panting from trying to catch and throw with a perfect wrist snap, every last one of us was thirsty.  And there were seven of us.

Zelda’s was right there, but Katie pointed out that Zelda’s also has new employees “every day.”  This is actually true.  Plus, Zelda’s is inferior to Cherry Alley.  It’s simple.  We walked the extra blocks to the clearly superior café, and those of us without money ordered cups of water.  For some reason, don’t ask me why, I always feel guilty when I order water from a café or restaurant, especially if I’m not ordering anything else.  I should just wear a sign around my neck whenever I plan on eating somewhere.  “Hi, I’m a cheap bastard.”  But I really do love Cherry Alley.  I really do spend most of my time and money there.  And they really do play superior music.  They are superior.

We sweated it out at a table meant for four, and trekked back to the park for more frisbee.  Aulden went home and we continued to play frisbee.  Paige and Tim left, and we played more frisbee.  And then Carol drove the remaining three of us home.

The rest of the evening was humble.  I worked out for a fairly long time.  I watched television, made pasta, and here I am.  Simple.

Here is one thing that bothers me.

I constantly tell you that I listened to Bright Eyes because Erika urged me.  I will remember that day for the rest of my life.  The first album I listened to.  The first song, even.  The sun in my room.  That red plastic swivel chair from Ikea.  It was a profound experience that allowed me to branch out my musical tastes.  It started with other artists on Saddle Creek.  Then I used Amazon as my tool to new artists.  I found the Arcade Fire there and fell in love from the first time I listened to “Neighborhood #1.”  And when I say love, I mean love.  Erika gave me the hint about Rilo Kiley with the Saddle Creek 50 album, and I remember becoming addicted.  I added the two Rilo Kiley songs, “With Arms Outstretched” and “Jenny You’re Barely Alive,” to my poserpod.  And I was in the car with my mother on a sunny afternoon.  We were on our way back home from the Food Lion in Goochland.  I listened to those two songs in succession, and it made the afternoon seem infinite.  There is no better way to describe something epic.  Infinite.

Jared and Jordan noticed that I have a story about every song or artist or album I have ever been intimately connected with.  I even have stories about Motion City Soundtrack and Relient K and Switchfoot.  Avril Lavigne.  Yes, I loved them.  I don’t anymore, but whenever I find people who like them, I just think…there’s hope in this world.  They might branch out like I did.  Maybe they will have a friend with the decency to introduce them to Bright Eyes.  That friend will give them the right album, and they will listen to the right song first.  Maybe.

So you get it now.  I’m in love with music.

I’ve offered a million times to make Rachael a mix CD.  She hears my music loud and clear in the house every day.  My experiments.  New songs.  I told her years ago to borrow my Sufjan Stevens albums and become acquainted.  She would like them.  “Chicago” is pretty mainstream, especially because of Little Miss Sunshine.  Of course, she doesn’t listen.  But then she gets a whole slew of new friends who are casual listeners.  And she gets an iPod.  And she wants to fit in.  So she abuses the privilege.  And now what do I hear pouring out of her iPod?  Two Sufjan Stevens songs.  One M.I.A. song.  Three Shins songs.  ONE Arcade Fire song.  Two Eisley songs.  Maybe five Beatles songs tops.  Oh, and you can’t forget Tegan and Sara because she has three of their songs.

It’s okay that she listens to good music now.  In fact, it’s great.  But if it’s so casual that she won’t explore any songs that aren’t “popular,” ones that her friends won’t listen to by chance–so casual that she won’t be compelled to look into the artists and similar artists and other songs and new genres–what’s the point?!  It defeats the entire purpose of enjoying music and thinking for your goddamn self.  In fact, her friends get their music from boys.  Boys who get their music from probably skate videos and good movies.  So even her friends who encourage her to branch out a little aren’t original.  It’s all passed down.  But don’t you think it would be fun to be the trendsetter for a change?

And granted, I find my music with the help of lovely blogs and lovely friends and movies and such.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t branch out on my own sometimes using the resources I’m given like Amazon and  I guess we all have to piggyback a little, but when someone doesn’t appreciate what they’re given or takes it for granted or turns her nose up at it until it is popular, I get extremely pissed.

6 Comments so far
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I know what you mean about the people that jump on a band’s bandwagon once they hit the Top 40 or get an Apple commercial, but there’s something to be said about hearing a song a lot. Turn on the TV and you hear that song, turn on the radio and you hear that song, walk down the halls and you hear people humming that song. It grows on you. Something in your subconscious makes you like that song. In Rachel’s case, it’s because she wants to fit in, but with many other casual listeners it’s because the song grows on them as it grows popularity.

Comment by asdfjkl;

I have to agree with asdkfjlisejf./ whoever. Ha. I mean, people that act like, “You listen to that. And it’s on the radio. You are so mainstream. That’s stupid.” Those people are so annoying. I know, I used to be like that. I used to go searching for unsigned bands every day just so I could say, “Ooh, I listened to them before they were big.”

But I think music is music. I listen to music for music’s sake. If I hear a song on the radio by…hm…Mariah Carey!…and I like it, then I’ll listen to it. Now, my Zune is full of Motion City and Sufjan and even Avril Lavigne. Good music is good music. Good music isn’t the same to everyone. Maybe the people that listen to the Top 40 songs just like that stuff. Or maybe they’re lazy. Or maybe they just don’t love music as much as you and me.

But then, there’s something to be said for someone who only listens to songs by bands that no one else has heard of. Someone who goes out and searches for these obscure bands just to feel cooler. Someone who has this whole stash of songs on their computer that no one else in the world has heard. And those are the people that won’t introduce others to the music they like.

Music is meant to be shared. Sure, it’s great to sit by yourself and listen to music sometimes, but it’s better to be driving down the highway with your best friend, singing at the top of your lungs to your favorite song. Concerts, even, are all about sharing music. If music wasn’t meant to be shared, concerts would be played for one person. There would be one person in the concert. But that’s why I love concerts so much: For a few hours one night, hundreds of people can come together, forget the outside world, forget their differences, and just rejoice in the love they have for this band. My favorite part is when there’s that one song that everyone knows, and the singer stops singing, and the entire audience just screams the words and it’s amazing. It’s the most amazing feeling in the world. I think that is my favorite place to be.

Anyway, music is meant to be shared. No matter if it’s number 1 on the billboard charts or some song that’s had 40 plays on MySpace. It’s meant to be shared. I get this rush out of sharing my music. Every time there’s someone new in my car, I’m shoving CDs into the dashboard, saying, “You’ve got to listen to this. Listen. It’s amazing. Oh, the best part is coming up. Isn’t it great?!” Most of the time, they’re just saying, “Yeah…whatever. It’s alright.” But I don’t even care. I’ve shared my music, and if someone else doesn’t like it, that’s alright. At least I tried and I still love it.

Comment by wellwell

I get the same feelings sharing music. And I constantly want feedback when someone listens. And when someone else shares with someone else and the chain keeps going, it makes me incredibly happy that I continued the chain that was already going. Nobody can really be credited with beginning something or starting a fad except for the creator. The artist.

I love making mix CDs for people, though, based on their already-existing preferences. Sometimes I’m not right-on (for example, I gave one friend an extremely girly CD that he did not completely appreciate), but other times I hit the jackpot (for example, I gave a different friend a CD that his mother and sister appreciated).

And yeah, ever since you mentioned that you listened to Avril Lavigne, I’ve meant to dig up the CDs, but I remembered just now that I lost them on a band trip once long before I received an iPod.

Additionally, I have a soft spot for Miley Cyrus. That was actually the highlight of Prom. I flailed my arms and people probably thought I was having a seizure. None of my friends were dancing that way. In fact, some of them were barely dancing at all. Probably because I kept hitting them.

The Arcade Fire was a spiritual awakening for me, probably the most spiritual night of my life. And I almost don’t expect it to be topped. But it is indeed great to be in a giant room with all these similar people for a few hours. I guess that’s probably how some people feel about going to church. As you said, Sara, people set aside their differences and rejoice.

I suppose I came across as rough in my entry, but I’m constantly grieving at the fact that no one knows about my beloved bands and most importantly, no one cares. People generally don’t want mix CDs. At least no one I know or am associated with via school. And I get defensive a lot of times because I think there’s no way someone else could hear the glory in this song, in this measure. If they did, it wouldn’t mean the same thing to them as it does to me, but it would definitely be a glorious improvement in…well, in the quality of life, I guess. Knowing that someone else hears it, too. Kind of like that Santa Claus bell in The Polar Express.

I also suppose that this defensiveness means that I should attempt more aggressively to share, but all I feel that I can really do is blast my iPod in the car and in the art room and write about everything I hear on this here blog. Or add it to my MySpace, because people are more influenced by that than one might think. I have also attempted to talk to people about their musical preferences, but I am often let down. If I befriended them, then perhaps I would have a shot at sharing music with them, but this would also require enduring reminders of the five-or-so most painful years of my life via music that I have distanced myself from. Avril Lavigne, by the by, does fall under this category, but I will admit that her first two albums were incredible by any standards, which would permit me to listen to her.

And word about the Apple commercials, but you know…I really don’t even mind that very much. In fact, I’ve picked up some favourite music from them. For me, it’s more that after painstaking nagging at my peers to listen up and all that exposure through art class and car rides and iPod lending, they won’t listen, but as soon as they hear a song once on MTV (namely on the Hills) or VH1 or the radio, they’re hooked for the next few months. And they let go so easily. They need to be fed hits constantly to stay interested in an artist or genre. It’s good for the artists, I suppose, to gain momentary fame, and it’s good for me to be able to converse with other people about beloved bands, but when they can only name two songs and claim that this is their favourite artist of the month, it’s ultimately frustrating. They won’t try to listen to anything else or make it a permanent fixture in their life.

Also, art room trips during study hall have recently entailed listening to older pop-punk and Christian pop-rock bands like Yellowcard, Switchfoot, Relient K, Fall Out Boy, and Motion City. At first, I protested fiercely because of all it symbolized, escaping from the strictly discriminatory music listener I have become (discriminatory against anything I was adamant about during a certain misled time period), but listening to them for an hour every other day won’t make me morph into the incredibly disillusioned person I was back then. It was silly that I ever even thought that.

Comment by indiechouette

A lot of people have a weird complex about listening to music that is too “pop”. It’s like they’ll only listen to music that’s “indie” enough. I understand the point that some people make about bands getting “corrupted” or “selling out” when they sign with a big name label, but good music is good music. So…you keep listening to FOB and Yellowcard. And don’t be ashamed! BTW, I think we can all guess which Arcade Fire song is on her iPod….

Comment by asdfjkl;

1. Okay, Avril Lavigne’s first album was pure genius. Seriously. The second one was pretty much on the same level. And then came the third, and although “Girlfriend” was my anthem of last summer, I really feel like she’s gone terribly downhill. But it was only my anthem because my friends and I had this friend, and we didn’t like his girlfriend, haha. And it’s just fun to sing along to when you’re driving around with no destination at midnight on a random Tuesday.

2. “They need to be fed hits constantly …” I think I know what you’re getting at. If a band has one song that’s on the radio or makes it in the video rounds on TV, they’re promptly forgotten about unless a new song comes out. It’s not that the other songs they have aren’t good. They might even be better. It’s just that they aren’t there to constantly remind listeners that they’re still around, still existing. I suppose everyone’s guilty of it a little bit, but some more than others. I, for instance, will immediately download as many songs as I can by a band that I’ve heard once. I carry around paper with me mainly to write down lyrics of songs I hear in stores or on commercials or on the radio that get my interest. I’m often surprised with the results I get when I am home, looking up the songs online. Once, I was in H&M, and I heard this song that I really liked, and I found out it was from the new Fountains of Wayne album. Don’t get be wrong, “Stacey’s Mom” is pretty much perfect, but not so much my style. But I ended up buying the new Fountains of Wayne and I fell in love with it.

3. And Yellowcard–I listen to them when I want to get that feeling that summer gives me. Especially Ocean Avenue. I never got that into them, and I only have one CD, but they give me that summery-let’s-have-fun feeling. And Fall Out Boy’s “Take This To Your Grave” is so so so good. A lot of people think bands improve with age, but I think that some of them are at their best when they’re young and naive. I think it’s because they’re doing what they love just to be happy. And as they become more popular and successful, they have to do what the people like in order to remain popular. Even though new FOB is very catchy…

That’s why I kind of admire Brand New. I feel as if with every record, they’ve done something completely different, without worrying about how it will be accepted. Every album could have been by a different band, but I still love them all.

Comment by Sara

I totally understand where you’re coming from. Casual listeners just sort of rub me the wrong way in general, and sometimes I think I start to get a little too pretentious or snobby about it…I am a music snob, I will be the first to admit, but I am trying to overcome it. I am attempting not be one of those indie hoarders who *has* to listen to obscure bands to feel better about themselves. But I think that no matter how famous Bright Eyes and Rilo Kiley and Arcade Fire and Tegan and Sara and Death Cab, especially Death Cab, become, I will still love them as much as ever. Because they are simply good, and there is nothing awful about other people realizing this. However, it might be slightly awful for people to only listen to the catchy songs, the ones that are easy on the ears, the “hits,” and never delve deeper, know where the bands are from or how they got started or any of those things. That’s what bothers me the most, I suppose; I feel like you can’t just love one song, you have to embrace the band in its entirety. I believe in the album, which is starting to feel like a dying art; listening to a good album in its entirety, how all the songs fit together, is one of my favorite things about music. I guess I should just be happy that people have at least one Arcade Fire song, or one Death Cab song, or three Shins songs or whatever, but for some reason, it genuinely pisses me off, I guess because I feel like people who aren’t obsessed with music and indie the way I am don’t deserve to listen to quality music. …Wow, I really am a bitch. I need to work on that.
I guess I also feel like I, personally, can’t do any embracing if I don’t respect the artist, which, admittedly, can get a little sketchy for me with artists like Avril Lavigne, no matter how much I may like some of her songs. (I’m secrectly a sucker for early Ashlee Simpson, but I do not respect her. Sssh. Don’t tell anyone.)
I don’t have problems listening to, and enjoying, bands such as Fall Out Boy and Motion City Soundtrack, because let’s face it, they are good. They play their instruments well and write witty lyrics. However, as a non-casual music listener, I feel that I can say this with some authority. I don’t have respect for people who may say they love Fall Out Boy, and have in their posession one MP3 of “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down.”
I, too, used to love Yellowcard and Switchfoot; rather a lot, in fact. I still enjoy them, to a certain extent, and I’ve reached a point where I can admit that they don’t suck just because they’re a little more mainstream. But also, their music doesn’t sound quite as good to me as it used to, but maybe I should chalk this up to my own musical maturity.
I do feel like some popular artists today are products, instead of artists in the way that, say, Arcade Fire is, and I do have a problem with this…maybe that’s another result of my music snobbery; I have been informed that it is. I just feel like it comes down to the respect thing again, and it does matter to me how much influence an artist has on their work. An artist who doesn’t write their own music or play any instruments just won’t garner the same amount of respect from me, and chances are, their music might not sound as good, either. I can’t even really listen to Britney Spears, or probably anything in the Top 40, anymore. It just doesn’t hold as much musical value for me as, say, Pavement or Guided by Voices or Ted Leo and the Pharmacists.
Anyway. I love making mix CDs for people, I do it all the time, even for some of my friends who are more casual music listeners. I guess I feel like good music will prevail, in the end. Maybe I should just suck it up and stop being a music snob, but that might take a bit more personal growth on my part. I’ll work on it.

Comment by Kate

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