Saturday, December 12, 2009

A really rude habit....

A coupla days back, drewzepmeister at posted a pic & some background Dtails about his music collection -- what's in it, how he got started, etc., & it set off a lot of memries 4 me -- which is 2 bad, cos I've bn collecting music & books since at least age 12. But I think I already had the 1st stages of the incurable disease even B4 that.
4 me, 1 of the manifestations of that disease is the Mbarrassing & rude habit I needta confess 2 right now, if U'll 4give me:
NEtime I'm ever invited in2 some1's home, I ALWAYS take a long look at their music & book collection. ALWAYS. Sometimes B4 I'm even done shaking hands & saying Hi or thru making polite conversation about the living room's decor. Even w/ total strangers, I immediately drift 2 the bookshelf or record/CD cabinet.
It's rude as hell, I know. I still think U can make quick, sweeping (probably mistaken) Judgements about people based on what they read & listen-2. & this is important in the process of getting 2 know some1 & Dciding if U wanna hang out.
Every time I've ever asked a woman out, sooner or later we've GOT 2 talk about music & books -- & if she dodges the subject, it's unlikely NEthing more is ever gonna happen Xcept 4 a cuppa coffee.
What I wanna know, as I'm confessing my hidden shame here, is whether NE1 else is like this...?
The roots of this problem go a LONG way back, probly at least 2 my impressionable & 4mative pre-teen yrs.... When I was 12, my next-door neighbor Mike Page had what was then the biggest record collection I'd ever Cn, mainly filled by singers & bands I'd never heard of B4-- Black Sabbath? Grand Funk Railroad? Led Zeppelin? The Animals? Jimi Hendrix? Buddy Miles? Vanilla Fudge? Blue Cheer? Who were these people?
Mike also had 100's of 45's, some of which he Bqueathed 2 me, Ghod bless him -- insidiously furthering my disease....
Around this period I started buying my own 45's & albums, which led 2 the mountains of vinyl I C around me 2day.... It took me another coupla yrs 2 start buying books, a disease which progressed 2 the point where at 1 time I had WAY more books than clothes, furniture, kitchen items, etc....
The disease continued in2 highschool. By then I'd 4med what I thot was a Dcent start 2 an album collection, & I knew my tastes were ... a bit off from "normal." Then I met some1 who's musical tastes were WAY farther out: My old highschool buddy Don Vincent made my definition of "weird" look old-fashioned. Don useta buy albums based on how weird their covers looked -- the farther-out & spacier, the better, & he was very seldom wrong. He was the 1st 2 try stuff I still listen-2 today: Gryphon, David Sancious, Charlie Dore, Pat Metheny, Amazing Blondel, Keith Jarrett.... Don & I also progressed in2 insidious "Stump The Band" contests, in which 1 or the other of us would put-on R latest off-the-wall purchase & defy the other 2 guess just from the music who or what this new item was....
Speaking of sweeping judgements, R old highschool friend Jeff Mann was probly the 1st victim of R sweeping judgements about how much U can tell about a person based on their listening habits. A foaming-at-the-mouth Beatles fan, after highschool Jeff went thru a phase where he bot EVERYTHING that was considered LOUD & TRENDY by his chosen hard-drinking hard-living peer-group: AC/DC, REO Speedwagon, Journey, Boston, the Cars, Molly Hatchet, Ted Nugent, Meat Loaf.... 4 all the albums Jeff bot & loved, there were never NE that were even mildly suprising -- & Don & I gave him hell 4 it. 4 while we were busy copying each others' musical tastes, we would NEVER buy NETHING that was predictable or cliched ... haha: 1/2 of what Jeff listened-2 back in those days I now put on regularly....
When women came along, my addiction mutated slightly. NE woman who knew me was gonna havta put up w/ the weird music & the odd books. My highschool sweetheart (who, 2 protect her identity, we're going 2 call, oh ... Allison) would have none of this -- she thot 95% of all current music & books back THEN were crap, that only The Classics would survive, & that AT LEAST 99% of everything I read, listened-2 & loved was crap -- & she would say so at length, at every opportunity. NE suprise that I loved her? Also no suprise that it didn't last long....
The next girlfriend (who 4 fictional purposes we're going 2 call Tina), a borderline-psycho redhead, had no music or book collection, didn't remember names of songs or books or musicians or writers. This should have bn a warning 2 me. Tho she adopted summa my faves & put up w/ my odd tastes, she had no real intrests of her own.... No suprise that this relationship didn't last long either (tho it dragged on 2wice as long as Allison ... hmmm).
The X-wife (who I've previously ID'd here as Cyndi, so there's no point changing her name now) was a little more devious -- this is the woman who "let" me "teach" her how 2 play cribbage right after we met, let me win the 1st game, then won the next 13 in a row B4 I gave up. THEN she told me she'd bn playing cribbage 4 years. Pretty smart, eh?
We put up w/ each other's diverse musical tastes pretty well, as long as we didn't inflict 2 much outrageousness on each other. Early in R marriage, while driving around San Antonio, we got in2 a HUGE argument cos I wanted 2 skip over the bad parts of a Pat Benatar album (almost all of it) while Cyndi wanted 2 sing along w/ the whole thing. By the time we got home we were both so mad we stormed off in diffrent directions.... & yet this marriage dragged on 4 17 yrs....
My most recent girlfriend (who 4 fictional purposes we'll call Mary) is not only a BIG Pink Floyd fan, she also Njoys summa my fave weirdnesses (Nick Drake, some Caravan) -- & she can 1-up me. W/ all my supposedly vast musical knowledge, I'd never heard Rod Stewart's gorgeous & moving "Handbags and Gladrags" until Mary pointed it out 2 me.
There've bn other acquaintances who've tried 2 get thru the all-Cing, all-knowing, all-revealing net of listening & reading habits. 1 woman I knew had a book collection that ran from fluffy historical romances 2 huge, dry tomes on current politics (that she never read), & a music collection that ran from straight country (Is there such a thing as gay country? Wait, don't answer that) 2 heavy-metal. Shoulda bn no suprise that she was a little ... scattered, self-contradictory.
Others have dodged the musical-taste question, 1 woman saying when asked what she liked 2 listen-2 that "I'm an eclectic." When's the last time U heard THAT word dropped in normal conversation? (The only time I've ever heard it used other than in a piece of rock criticism was in the lyric 4 The Cars' "Hello Again.") It's not like I was asking just so I'd have a chance 2 say "Oh, so THAT'S what YOU like?"
Now, judging by his collection (it took a long time 2 get 2 it, but here goes), I can assume that Drew is a simple, no-frills, down-2-Earth rocker, who takes no BS (Deep Purple, Nazareth, Foghat, Skynyrd, Iron Maiden, Montrose, Who), but who's mayB a little bit open 2 The Cosmic (Yes's TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS, Mahavishnu's BIRDS OF FIRE), & sometimes just likes 2 have a simple, relaxed Good Time (Beatles' 2ND ALBUM).
Now, what I wanna know is, does NE1 else do this kinda amateur psychology based on what they find on a friend's book or music shelf? Or am I alone in my sweeping thoughtless condemnations of other people's lives...? (That's what this lifelong addiction does 2 U!)
However it turns out, thanx 2 Drew 4 opening up his collection 2 perusal of this sort ... & I think I might B on2 a new "science" of charting personality traits & predicting life choices that's at least as reliable as ... oh, astrology, Tarot-card reading.... Course I don't wanna THINK about what it sez about ME....


bearockr said...

Well Tad, music is definitely the most connecting factor b/w any of my friends and me... Usually whenever I meet someone new, I always ask :Which type of music r u into?
And usually, if he/she is into hip-hop or probably ne other genre other than rock, I just don't have nethin 2 talk about wid him!

drewzepmeister said...

Tad, my music rage goes far and wide. I can get down to some serious rocking with Iron Maiden and Metallica, share romantic moments with the likes of Fleetwood Mac and Journey, get spellbounded by the psychedelic jams of the Grateful Dead, and get myself "involved" to the lyrics of Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan. I'll listen to music as old as Elvis Presley and Robert Johnson to as new as the lastest release from Back Door Slam. I try to be open to anything except rap. My favorite band of all time is Led Zeppelin.

rastronomicals said...

Well, your habit is only rude if you begin BEFORE shaking hands, and before being welcomed into the house. . . . after that, you're simply looking for conversation, right?

What I found most interesting about your post is when you write of your relationships with women in terms of taste in music and books.

The first gal I ever lived with, while freethinking and iconoclastic in some ways, had severe reservations about both the weird and the heavy in my music collection. Which is OK when you're getting together and falling in love, because that's all about accomodation. But when things begin breaking down, it becomes yet another issue to throw onto the pile.

That doesn't mean you can only get together with a woman who shares your tastes (which is probably impossible for any hardcore music junkie anyway). When my perpetually betrothed Melanie and I got together, about the only musical taste we shared, being of a certain age and all, was for early '80's commercial New Wave.

But Melanie was a collector, who had 1000's of albums (and 1000's of books, too). While the tastes were different, the approach was the same. Because she is passionate about music, she understands that there's no easier way to hurt someone than to get mean about their taste in a song or a band. And because she accumulates the stuff just like I do, that never becomes an issue, either.

Our tastes are still very different, though there's been a little cross-pollination. She's turned me onto the Martin Denny and Les Baxter exotica thing, and onto Pacific Jazz like Chet Baker or Gerry Mulligan.

And I've turned her onto The Mercury Program and Nick Drake and (my greatest triumph!) (certain) Soft Machine.

So with this relationship success I somehiow stumbled into, I think it's more the attitude towards music that's most important, not any one particular genre or even band.

Although as bearockr suggests, it might be hard for an unapologetically rockist sonofabitch like myself to forge any kind of a relationship with someone who's really into modern hip hop. It's like an alien artifact to me: I just do not understand it.

tad said...

Thanx, R -- I knew U'd Get It.
Actually, when the X-wife & I had R Big Break-Up Talk, 1 of the things she faulted me 4 was that I'd stopped "sharing" the weird music & books I was in2 + my own fiction-writing, that I'd locked that part of my life away from her -- & I countered that I couldn't share stuff w/ some1 who was Never Home (she was off trying 2 Bcome an actress). But enuf of that....
& actually, I KNOW what I would say w/ my Amateur Psychologist's hat on, if I were faced with a music collection like mine:
"Hmmm... Let's see here... Moody Blues, Caravan, Camel, Yes, Genesis, King Crimson, Gryphon, Amazing Blondel, Nick Drake, Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, Beach Boys, Boston, Journey, Jefferson Starship.... Hmmm. Little bit of a dreamer, can't take too much harsh reality, puts on an unconvincing tough front but is really a big softie, loner, prone to pointless depression, sucker for a good broken-hearted lovesong so likely to be disappointed in love, nostalgic, conscientious and hard-working but likely to drift off into fuzzy pastel fantasies at a moment's notice...." (Wow, this is starting 2 sound like a Personals ad....)
I still think I could get a gov't grant 2 look further in2 this new science of charting personality-traits & life-choices that I've accidently tripped over. But until the $$$ comes thru I'm just gonna havta carry on best I can here at the New Church Of Book- And Music-ology.... -- TAD.

drewzepmeister said...

A thing I'd like to add here. People change. My ex-wife was a rock and roller like me and I taught her many things about rock music. By the time we got divorced, she was listening to rap!

bearockr said...

@Drew's comment- lol !

Matt said...

TAD, I think yours is a common condition! However, after one girlfriend who was perfectly compatible musically and... not so compatible otherwise, I've come to see the limitations on what you can learn purely from comparing iTunes libraries (If I may be agonizingly 21st century for a moment).
I'm always interested in the music other people listen to, but for me the issue isn't so much what they ALREADY like as it is what they COULD like. I like meeting somebody with different tastes so their enthusiasm gives me an impetus to try and hear what they hear in it. Then I can look for common ground with the music I like that they don't know (And try not to take the misses TOO personally [Although I'll never forget/forgive the time another ex-girlfriend switched off Steely Dan's "East St. Louis Toodle-oo" saying it sounds like elevator music]). But when I meet somebody who likes what they like and isn't interested in anything else, it's hard for me not to feel like "listening to music" means something completely different to them than it does to me. Even if I like what they like too!
One peculiarity for me is that I'm 21 but 95% of my musical interests only reach the year before I was born. I've been this way since I started choosing my own music, I've never thought about why but I think I find it easier to evaluate music when its historical context has faded a little. I know Roger Waters is an asshole, but that means less to me and has less bearing on my enjoyment of "The Wall" than it would if I tried listening to it 30 years ago. I mean, I love hip-hop and all the Kanye West I've heard, but Kanye himself is a giant obstacle in me ever buying one of his albums (Heck, even in making the effort to download them illegally!).
I'm gonna end that thought there so I can make my original point about my age: a problem for me given my age is when I meet somebody with set ideas about "oldies" and "classic rock" (Terms that lose significance when you just think of them as "the music I like"). The worst case is somebody who won't listen to anything old enough to walk, a more sinister problem is how "cool" classic rock is nowadays. I can almost appreciate the effort when somebody goes on about how much they love "Teenage Wasteland," but usually that's a good indicator that they like the IDEA of liking the Who more than they like the band itself. Ditto Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Ramones, AC/DC (Who I'm not very familiar with, but still), etc. If t-shirt to fan ratios could magically be calculated I don't think I'd even want to see them.
I feel like I could go on for hours but this study break has already gotten out of hand. Great blog as always, keep up the good work!

tad said...

Matt: Ghod bless ya. ...& did U C the "But Seriously, Folks"/Does Current Music Suck? post further down the pg? Love 2 get yr take on summa THAT, as some1 who's actually fairly up-2-date w/ summa that newer stuff (Kanye who?).... --TAD.