I find it hard to communicate anything without first giving a back story, so allow me to give you another. I grew up in a home where listening to non-christian music was not encouraged, and occasionally met with disdain. As a child, my favorite bands were Switchfoot and Relient K (as these were Christian rock and acceptable listening material). Upon telling someone of a new band or artist which I discovered, I would usually be met with the ‘Are they a christian band’ question. If they were not, I’d best be ready to understand anything and everything which these artists stood for and have the ability to interpret their lyrics on a deep metaphorical level. If I wore a band tee of a secular artist, this conversation would eventually arise, and I have avoided sharing music with others to avoid such conversations with others. Until now.
It wasn’t until 2007 when I went on an a missions trip to Ecuador, where I had access to secular music. The plane radio contained songs from artists such as Modest Mouse and Daft Punk and I immediately fell in love with their catchy rhythms and beats. This was a whole new world of music I had never heard before and it excited me (and it still does from time to time). Who knew that this world existed? I certainly didn’t. For as long as I can remember, I have felt uncomfortable sharing music that I enjoy out of fear of being judged or viewed with disdain. This has been difficult for me, since music is a large part of my life and something which I enjoy thoroughly. I can remember distinctively having arguments with my father about how ‘rock and roll is the devil and you shouldn’t fill your head with such ideas and things of the like’. This has only served to make me unwilling to share things about myself and discouraged me to be open about what I like and how I feel. Being unable to share the music that I love with other people has been a microcosm of being unable to share who I am as a person. Being able to share who you are and what you enjoy with other people is fundamental to having a capacity for empathy and for living a happy and fulfilled life. To be completely honest, I want those things out of life.
Part of why I hadn’t created a blog or held any sort of public platform in the past is due to the judgement of others. I’m the type of person who has always wanted everyone to get along, and the type who actively tries to avoid confrontation at all costs. Lately, I’ve been coming to terms that some confrontation is necessary in order to stay true to yourself and that not everybody in life will support your version of authenticity. Those people, frankly, are not worth my time and do not deserve to be a part of my life. Having said all of this, we should be cognizant of our own biases when we are listening and/or sharing music. Being in an environment in which you are uncomfortable (or perhaps afraid) to share something as simple as your taste in music makes the world a quieter and less interesting place.
Not everything in life has to have a deep metaphorical meaning, and certain things should only be taken at face value. One of the songs I like, “Ode to Viceroy” by Mac DeMarco, is literally a love song written about cigarettes. While I don’t smoke (or plan on smoking) cigarettes, I find this song to be lighthearted and uplifting. One man’s cigarettes are another man’s potato chips. We can all understand having a penchant for something, be it baked goods, cigarettes or the color red. Had he not created that song, the world would be a more boring and less connected place as a result. Artistic expression should be allowed to flourish to showcase the talents and perspectives of others. Silencing people is never a healthy (or effective) thing to do, nor is only allowing your children to ONLY listen to music found on K-LOVE and inside of Christian bookstores.
*As an aside, please do not take this as a tirade against Christian rock. If you love listening to K-Love or you get joy and fulfillment out of listening to hymns, please do so and share that with other people.
Something which I wish everyone was more aware of, is the subjectivity of music. When somebody sees me wearing a Car Seat Headrest t-shirt and says “what a dumb band name, why would you listen to that”? I am aware of how mentally unprepared people are to accept that other people have preferences of their own. When asked what your favorite style of music is, many people often simply just say “I like everything”, or “I like everything except rap & country”. This is a cop-out statement, because nobody likes every genre of music and that is 100% okay. You likely won’t enjoy listening to every song that was ever created, but that doesn’t mean that you should look down at others for liking something on the other side of the musical spectrum. You will have different tastes and preferences than I do, but that doesn’t mean that either of us should break the other down for simply being different. Nobody should belittle anyone for enjoying something which isn’t harmful or discount the life experience of someone else as invalid because it’s not in line with yours. If you were to explain to someone why you love the color red, you wouldn’t have to give deep metaphorical reasoning of your appreciation for crimson or understand everything that the color red stood for. You would simply say that you enjoy the color red, and the person you were sharing that information would learn something about you and (hopefully) appreciate that. This should be the case with music.
I created a playlist of some of the songs I like. If you like the way they sound, cool. If you don’t like them, that’s cool too.
Something I have done for a while on my Twitter account is post a screenshot of a song I’ll really be enjoying that day and deem it the #SongOfTheDay. While I understand that my Twitter account isn’t exactly the largest audience, I’ve always enjoyed sharing these with anyone who is willing to listen, as they are often the highlights of my day. Stopping to smell the sonic flowers, so to speak, is something which has helped me appreciate the small things in life. Something as simple as finding joy in listening to a song and sharing that joy you receive with others is a beautiful thing to me. If you love listening to Chris Tomlin, share that with others. If you love listening to GWAR, share that with others. If you love listening to Taylor Swift, share that with others. If you love listening to the sound of birds chirping in the morning, share that with others. Not everyone has to appreciate or like the bands or genres that you do, but they should at the very least appreciate the fact that you find joy in them and the fact that you want to share that same joy with others. If someone claims to support you, they should advocate for your version of happiness and not their own version of your happiness. We should create a world where others are free to share what makes them happy without judgement or disdain.
I encourage you to share your own #SongOfTheDay, or perhaps just some small part of your life which brings you joy. Let’s work together to create a world which is more connected and understanding of others and their differences. Through listening to the musical tastes of other people, we can discover new artists, genres and viewpoints. Some of them may not align with your ideologies, and this will serve to challenge you. Through these challenges, your viewpoint could change or further edify your current views. The only thing you have to lose by staying out of this process is the understanding of yourself.
Some of the sources which have helped me discover new music are:
-NPR music’s Youtube Channel which showcases a ton of live performances, and home of the tiny desk concert
-KEXP’s Youtube Channel which also showcases a ton of live performances
-The recommendations of others
Those are my thoughts, what are yours?