Like it, love it, hate it

I love music.

In a previous incarnation, I found myself selling musical instruments to the 'General Public', a truly frightening body of people whom I'd rather not have to deal with in any great numbers again.

During one of those dark days, a middle-aged couple dropped in to look at a cheap keyboard for their son/daughter. I began my friendly patter.

(me) So, the young one is getting into 'the music', eh?

(mother) Oh, yes. Little Timmy/Mary loves it. He LOVES it. And he can PLAY ANYTHING. Ask him play anything off the radio, he can play it.

(me, polite but sceptical) Is that right? Well, that's quite the talent.

(mother) He didn't get it from this fellah, though. He HATES music. Don't you?

(father, with smug grin) Yeah. Hate it.

(me) So you never listen to music?

(father) It just ANNOYS me really. Hate the noise.

(mother, proud of her eccentric mate) Ah, sure he's an awful man.

(me) Er, sorry I'm on lunch right now…

I've only heard this extreme opinion of music voiced once. But can people really hate music? I don't have an answer for that. Maybe this guy was just taking up a position. A more important question for me however is whether people really lovemusic.

That's a claim I hear regularly enough: I love music. As a musician who hangs around other musicians, it almost seems redundant to make a statement like that. Of course, people in the arts world simply assume that everyone appreciates their art in some form or another.

But when people find they simply have to tell me that they love music, it makes my wary. I narrow my eyes, suck on the stem of my pipe and say: Hmm, pray continue. Waiting to hear what they will say next.

There's always the possibility that these people may admit to enjoying the 'wrong' music, that is to say uncool or obvious music, but a far more sinister indicator of their alien nature is how they say they enjoy music.


I listen while cooking.
I just love dancing.
Super party music.
They're a great band, they never stop moving on stage.
Cool, I remember this one from when I used to go out drinking in college.

Driving, washing up, having sex, aerobics, chatting in a pub. These are activities that they find somehow enhanced by music, but the music remains secondary. It is merely a generic soundtrack to their busy lives.

They say they love music, but have they ever considered that listening to music is an activity in itself? That real music is worthy of intelligent concentration?

They may think they love Brown Eyed Girl, but in reality they only love the effect it has on them–drunken memories, a dancing rhythm, some loud pub noise, backdrop to entertainment–a chain of useless and shallow links to 'fun'.

If you love music, listen to it. It's too precious to waste as paper scenery for our crappy lives.