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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Purity, Purism or Puritanism?

still shot from "Take on Me" video: THE BEST VIDEO OF THE MTV ERA
EVER! Directed by Steve Barron using Max Fleischer's rotoscope technique
Music, from the first note I ever heard, is where my soul revels. A song or a melody will stick in my head rather quickly, and also permanently. I might not get all the words right off... but the melody. Ah the melody.... 
Music is primal.
But above all it is unifying.
And as with all things in Geekdom, if I am passionate about it then I will defend it, support it, protect and encourage it. And if I hate it, it will not live in my heart at all. I am that way with all things.
Music is one of those things in which the exploration is endless. It begins with that first note and it continues right through everything else that you encounter. The lifelong love of music is one of constant tending. My music collection is the only garden I will ever be able to grow. But here is the thing: This garden, for the better part of my life has been as rigid as a boxwood parterre. My music collection rejects the haphazard landscape of an English Garden full of riotous colors and species.
So here is the other thing, as will happens with Geeks, I have always been a purist. I loved spinning records. The snap, crackle and tinny pops as the needle found imperfections on its orbit around the spindle were part of the songs. Cassettes took the character (read imperfections) away from the record. But you could take them more places. Records were fragile. Cassettes, it turned out, were fragile too. For a while the Walkman made music mobile. Then CDs came along. They were expensive. While they boasted an enhanced listening experiences by eliminating the things that I loved about records, I hated them. I resisted the change. Then they were the only format in which new music was available so I had to bend.
Where I refused to yield was in the category of remakes. Or worse, the habit of sampling. Sting does a beautiful job with his work. NO ONE. NO ONE should be allowed to poison the purity of the original work. Most remakes were horrible. Someone who liked the song would do a cover version without having a clue as to how to use their own voice as an instrument. I abhorred covers. I fought covers. I dropped friends who enjoyed cover music. I was a purist. Some people called me a snob. But honestly, in the early days it was crap. Besides, the songs that we hear in those years where we are first forming our tastes beyond the limits of our parents influence are special. The songs have special meanings. They are frequently attached to all of our firsts, to our friends and the memories of events that shape who we are. For someone to come along and change those songs means that they are changing parts of our lives that matter to us. And it used to infuriate me. After all, I was a purist.
That would seem to imply something has changed. It has. I've been a damn Puritan about music. Oh I still hate the new stuff from the likes of Katy Perry and K$sha. That will never change. House music is still a bit beyond me.... I saaaayyyy. The Puritan in me just doesn't want to like techno/house/trance music. Yet, I have found myself listening to some things that I should not, as a purist, enjoy.
Here's the thing. I will never like new House music with lyrics that are either unintelligible or should be unintelligible because of the content of the lyrics. What I will like, what I do like, is on my spotify account under the heading "cringe-worthy". It started with trying to kill one Barry Manilow song with a dozen other Manilow songs. You know how it is when you get an ear worm stuck. Most of the time you can kill it simply. This ear worm shared characteristics with a ceti eel and demanded a more strident approach. It didn't work like I thought it would.
I found that spot in me that cringes when I hear Manilow, the Bee Gees and company but can not resist some toe tapping. I can not recall exactly how the whole process went. All I know is that at the end of 3 and a half hours I have a playlist that is full of covers of classic songs done in the House/techno trend currently popular in the clubs. Songs from Frankie Valli, Sting, BeeGees, covers of new wave hits and Reim club mixes. They are songs that made me cringe when I was a child are now toe-tapping head-bopping favorites.

I always used to like new things. So what made me a Puritan about music? I don't know. What made the change? Well, that's an even bigger mystery. It must be that my senses were hit at the right time to catch my attention? But is it something that will be permanent? I don't think so. Most likely this is just going to be a phase.

But I think that I will at least fit in with more situations as my life expands as it always was meant to be. That's one of the best things about being a geek... we are curious. And we should get curiouser and curiouser as we grow.

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