You know how there’s those bands out there that people tell you are SO GOOD and EVERYONE YOU KNOW LOVES THEM and yet you hear them and tilt your head to the side like a confused dog going “I dun get it?” because the music just doesn’t do it for you? I do that a lot. Not, like, all the time, but enough that I’m starting to think there’s something wrong with me. This isn’t one-hit-wonder bands I do it with, either – it’s establish bands with fandoms that would (on a bad day) attack me like rabid beavers screaming UNCLEAN because I don’t adore their musical demi-gods. These are bands that are in the Rock Hall of Fame. These are artists that some have called “brilliant” and “revolutionary” and I sit there like a dunderhead going “BUT WHY. IT’S MEH.” It makes me feel musically low-brow, like you gave me filet mignon and I snubbed it for a Happy Meal. Why is my musical palette broken? WHYYYYY? The sad part is I want to like these artists (probably to fit in and not feel like the aforementioned Happy Meal Girl) but I can’t. There’s some kind of cramp in my brain preventing me from drinking your Kool Aid and hopping on the fan train.
I need help, People.
What I’m hoping for with this post is for people to either confess that they’re like me, that they don’t get why some of these bands are lauded as HOLIER THAN HOLY -OR- for you real fans to explain to me what I’m missing about this music. Maybe it’s something I haven’t considered before, like an appreciation of a style that could be fostered with care, nurturing, and a WTF slap. Or maybe people are more polarized on these artists than I realize and I’m not as weird as I think I am. Whatever the case, HELP ME LIKE STUFF YOU LIKE, GUYS. I hate feeling like the lonely kid in the corner playing with her Go-Bots while all the cool kids are playing with their Transformers on the other side of the room.
So without further ado, here’s my list of BUT I DON’T GET WHY YOU LOVE THEM SO MUCH. Educate me, Fools.
1. The Who
I . . . don’t care about Pinball Wizard. That deaf dumb blind kid might play a mean pinball, but other than that, what’s so fucking fantastic about him? It’s pinball. This isn’t brain surgery. Who Are You – WHO, WHO, WHO CARES. The introduction to “Won’t Get Fooled Again” is pretty fuck-awesome, but it goes down the hill from there. My Generation? Wasn’t as soulful as the Stones, nor was it as melodic as The Beatles, so it felt like a garage band musical rebellion. Yawn. The only song I can even really remember liking was Behind Blue Eyes, but horrible admission time? I liked Sheryl Crow’s cover better, and I don’t even LIKE Sheryl Crow that much.
So what am I missing here? The rock opera thing? Is that it?
Here’s my issue with Rush: their songs can be really, REALLY long with these sweeping musical interuldes that I think are supposed to be symphonic appreciation. Unfortunately, because I’m broken or have no taste or something, it can come across as self-stroking pretentious bullshit. They sing about the trees and loving the earth and stuff, which is great in message, but it’s heavy handed and makes me feel like I’m choking on what they’re trying to shovel down my throat. I understand that music can change the world, but every song doesn’t need a message. This isn’t Sesame Street and I’m not looking to be taught something today. Also, listening to Tom Sawyer (one of their most recognizable songs) there’s something about the lead singer’s voice that tweaks me. It’s a little high-pitched and reedy – maybe that’s the turn off.
Yes, they’re grandfathers of grunge, and as such they gave a lot of my friends growing up a reason to dim the lights and think about their angst. I can appreciate that, but I feel like Nirvana’s . . . sorta overrated. Okay, hugely overrated. I listen to the music and go “this is grunge in its fetal stages”. And then other contemporaries come on – Pearl Jam for one – and I think “but this is just put together better.” It’s still got that lovely angst factor going but there’s melody there and, you know, the lead singer can sing. Kurt Cobain just sort of gargled with salt water and stood in front of a microphone. And I understand that people LOVE to champion lost causes, and Kurt’s story was absolutely tragic in some ways, so it might be that whole doomed artist bit, but I just . . . what’s so good about them? Heart Shaped Box is as close to a ‘good song” as I can recall. Maybe the radio airplay tunes were the shitty ones and there are hidden gems I don’t know about? Please? Maybe?
4. Led Zeppelin
This is probably the one that confuses me the most. Here are these rock gods who sing about NERDY stuff, like Lord of the Rings, and as we all know, I’m all about the nerd. I’m a card carrying member of the Nerd Fandom Society for Christ’s sake. And yet, I could give a shit less about Led Zeppelin. The thing that really frustrates me here is they have some REALLY powerful hooks – the primal scream in Immigrant Song is pretty fuckin’ epic, for example. Except, once again, a cover comes along and blows the original out of the water for me. Thanks, Karen O and Trent Reznor. I know there’s the argument of “if they didn’t write the song to begin with, you couldn’t enjoy the cover” and there IS some validity to it, but I want to get down with my hipster douchebag self and say “BUT THE ORIGINAL IS SO MUCH BETTER” and once again I can’t because I simply don’t get it.
5. Pink Floyd
The interesting thing with Floyd is, more than any other previously mentioned band on my list, I kinda do like them. Sometimes. In small doses. I just don’t like them enough. And I feel like I should – it’s got all the right ingredients. I like the lead singer’s voice, I actually like a handful of songs, and they experimented with sound in a way that I find relatively pleasing (Comfortably Numb is a good example). However. I think Pink Floyd fanbois are part of the reason I don’t love them. When I was in college, a bunch of people swore up and down Pink Floyd was the best thing ever and no one could touch their musical brilliance, which I found pretty off-putting. I enjoy SOME of their stuff (not all – Money can take a dump in its Money hat) but I don’t listen and go MAN, THIS MOVED ME SO MUCH I CRAPPED MY PANTS. And people who follow Floyd are the pants-crapping type when they listen to Dark Side of the Moon.
There’s the list, people. Have at it. Educate me, or tell me your own “I should like them, but . . . ” artists because right now, I feel like I need a dunce cap and a dark corner.