Hey Jealousy

Posted on August 13, 2009

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Well, now that that’s stuck in your head, let’s move on to what I actually intended to talk about in this post, which is the many-edged sword of musical jealousy. As I get older, the musicians who blow up get closer to my age, and I find myself constantly comparing ages (well, so-and-so didn’t release his first record til he was 26) and band lifespans (the first dirty projectors album came out in 2003, so that means I have at least 3 years to catch up with dave longstreth), and the fact that this is completely idiotic doesn’t stop me from doing it one bit. It’s not the end of the world to think on some stupid shit, but you can really make yourself miserable, not to mention kill any chance of writing for the day. You can go from being excited about new music to beating yourself bloody in the span of two minutes, and with the consciousness-arresting power of the internet, you can then spend the next hour hopping from link to link and making yourself feel even worse before you realize what you’re doing.

There’s also the whole issue of how much you are supposed to care about press and critical reception as a musician (answer: none), as opposed to how much you probably actually care (some). I mean, press is important. It leads a lot of potential listeners to your music, and honestly, it’s pretty gratifying to hear someone say really fantastic things about something you worked very hard on. Just like how if you cook dinner for someone, it’s nice that it tastes good, but it’s twice nice to hear some words of appreciation. And then that metaphor begs the question of who you are really making music for. This is probably a lose-lose situation. You could say “I make music only for myself,” (thereby perpetuating an annoying myth of artistic purity) in which case the response is “well then why play it for anyone else at all?” to which there is no real response. And if you say “I make music for the listening public” then why not make the bubblegummiest pop music you can? Why include, say, skronky saxophone solos? not that I’m thinking of anyone’s music in particular…

This kind of thinking is probably useless, not to mention reductive and simplistic. Odds are no one makes music entirely for personal reasons or entirely for commercial reasons (I feel like there are easier ways to make money). Still, on a practical note this kind of jealousy is a serious bummer, if only because it makes it that much more difficult to keep up with the music scene. Actually, not only that, but I can’t even trust my own opinions anymore because jealousy tends to seep into my listening and ruin bands that I would otherwise appreciate. Ahh to go back to the days when I could read pitchfork with a dreamy, naive twinkle in my eye.

In other news, the new dirty projectors album is really interesting and also really good (Rise Above was great too, but some of the records before that were much more interesting then they were good). Maybe I’ll save my spiel on that for tomorrow.

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