Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Diary of a Music Nerd

Remember last month when my post started with an innocent thought on last-minute panic and by the end had turned into a rage-filled rant on the closed-mindedness of the majority of Jews worldwide? Ahhhhh, good times.

If you recall that then you might recall how in the postscript I mentioned that the tirade I had unleashed was nowhere remotely close to what I had originally planned on writing about; I made it halfway through the first paragraph and, like a 21st century Dr. Frankenstein, watched with a strange mix of horror and joy as my creation developed a life and consciousness of its own. The end result was an arbitrary diatribe on the tribe that I had had no intention of writing but actually turned out pretty well. Hey…arbitrary diatribe on the tribe… there should be a word for that or something…

Anyhow, the point of this is that I’d like you all to mentally copypaste the first two sentences from my March post, Standard Operating Procedure, into the beginning of this post, and God willing I will actually talk about the topic I had planned on talking about last month.

So let’s talk about music.

I’m sure this comes as no surprise to anyone. Those that know me know my obsession with music, and I’m sure me linking to an average of two songs per post has not been lost on our regular readers (ps. I link to those songs for a reason. They're all awesome and you should at least check them out). It was really only a matter of time before this was going to happen, and I assure you all that this will definitely not be the last, second-to-last, or even fifth-to-last time you will get a post from me about music. That being the case, I figure it makes sense that the first in a string of posts on music should be about my relationship with music and what it means to me.

Those who have driven in a car with me when I’m on music duty know I am notorious for insisting that the iPod stay on shuffle. If you want to hear a specific song, seven or eight times out of ten I will simply not allow it. The explanation is simple: I listen to such a broad range of musical styles and genres (and more than a few bands that some might not even consider music) and I like to revisit and re-expose myself to those tunes buried among the four-and-a-half thousand on my iPod. That’s the thing about shuffle: you never know what’s going to come up, which is why it’s so exciting when a song I haven’t heard in a while is suddenly blasting through my car speakers.

This shuffle method ensures some runs of three or four songs in a row that just “shouldn’t” be on the same iPod. It seems people have trouble getting their heads around how I can have Behind These Hazel Eyes by Kelly Clarkson sandwiched between Anti-Venom by USS and Shadows and Dust by Arch Enemy, but to me it’s pretty simple. My relationship with music is pretty straightforward: I like what moves me. There you go, it’s not that complicated. No matter what it is, a guitar riff, a vocal melody, the way the drummer mixes it up with the toms and cymbals instead of relying on the standard kick-snare-hi hat combo, as long as it hits me in a certain way, I’ll listen to the song. You see, music to me is all about how it moves you and how it moves through you. If you can find something in a piece of music that you can connect with, listen to the song. Who knows, maybe you’ll develop a taste for the genre. That’s how it was for me and heavy metal (although I do agree that metal is an acquired taste, but more on that in a later post).

Case in point: in late February I was on my way to a concert with my good friend and one-time Arbitribe guest blogger The Ginger Man. We intended to show up late because we really didn’t care for the opening bands on the bill, but despite our best efforts (including a 15 minute jam out in the Herald Square N stop on our way down after we found a subway band playing there. They’re called You Bred Raptors? And they’re AWESOME! Check ‘em out) we still showed up in time for Winds of Plague. Ugh. I didn’t enjoy most of the set and in fact was making my best effort to hate it but even I found myself involuntarily rocking out during some parts. It was just natural; the music was moving me.

So there you have it, an introduction to my thoughts on music; just a short something to open things up. Clearly this will be a running theme so I see no need to go crazy with this one as I will have plenty of time to elaborate and respond to comments in later posts. Which reminds me: in case you didn’t pick up on this already, I’m pretty fanatical about music, what one might call a music nerd, and so I’m totally down for discussion if anyone wants to. I love this stuff.

Stay tuned for further thoughts and ramblings on the subject, such as music as a musician, music as a Jew, and music as a metalhead! And have an awesome, happy, healthy, meaningful Pessach! NEXT YEAR IN JERUSALEM!!!

Song of the Day: Dea Pecuniae - Pain of Salvation


  1. I totally want to post again. But hey, Hear ye Hear ye to this post.

  2. There's a great book you should read explaining everything you just described in a scientific method called This Is Your Brain On Music by Daniel J. Levitin. I have a copy if you want to read it.

    -Bob the Lights Guy


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