As a general rule I like to maintain an open mind, try and be receptive to as much as possible, be it music, film, art, writing, sport and I do try and take more than a passing interest in all of these things which may explain why I'm an expert in none and am working a dull, 37.5 hour a week job at my local hospital as a clerk. However, what I struggle with is when something is recommended to me numerous times by different people. People whose opinion I respect, and when I get round to, in this case, listening to said recommendation I discover that it utterly bores the novelty socks off my feet (Note: I don't really wear novelty socks).
Sonic Youth. The band whose name conjures up an image of DIY guitar music, the slacker generation's champions, the standard bearers for not-giving-a-shit. They are a band who by many, are considered a central driving force behind the rise of alternative and independent music as we know it today. I'd heard eminent musicians and producers rave about the band's influence but what really pushed me to decide to part with some of my bread for one of their albums was two friends whose music taste mirrored mine with dazzling similarity. They both said that since I loved the early nineties noise rock sounds of Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh and Husker Du it would be well worth my time checking out the band that topped them all, Sonic Youth. Around this time I was also watching a lot of films written by people whose formative years had been spent listening to this kind of music. Movies like 'Juno' (lovely), Youth In Revolt' (not a spot on the stupendous book it was based on) and 'Observe and Report' (a top tenner). Besides the fact I felt like I was slowly being assimilated into some kind of Michael Cera cult I was noticing that these movies contained a lot of tracks by some of my favourite bands of this period. Sonic Youth were often on the soundtrack though I'd never really noticed their contributions. All of these factors encouraged me to mosey on down to my local HMV to physically purchase a copy of their most iconic album, so I was told, 'Goo'. The front cover sure looked iconic as I picked it up and, pointlessley, scanned the tracklisting ( I didn't know any of their songs but it's just something you have to do when you pick up a CD in the shop. It makes you look like you know what you are doing) and headed off to pay my moolah. As I approached the customer assistant and she took the CD case from me and scanned it, I felt like the coolest motherfucker in the entire queue. "Yeah, I'm just buying a Sonic Youth record, they're pretty much a pivotal band in the creation of alternative music as we know it."
I got home and slipped the CD into the stereo and lay back on my bed, shut my eyes and listened. I managed to get to 'Disappear', the seventh track of the eleven before I opened my eyes and pressed stop. So far I'd only enjoyed one track 'Mote', which I stopped properly listening to after the first four minutes. Maybe I wasn't in the right frame of mind to listen to them properly, or maybe it would be one of those bands that make music that people think they should like even if they don''t like because they are an important band and so they'll import their songs into iTunes, put them on their iPod just in case a fellow music fan will ever perouse their device. They'll see 'Sonic Youth' and assume that this cat knows his musical beans. I was thinking what's the point of me having this record on my MP3 player if I'm never going to listen to it. What's the point of me trying to pretend I like this band when the fact is their songs don't appeal to me in the slightest?
While writing this mess of a blog post I've been trying to work out exactly what it is I'm trying to say to you guys. And I guess, just like I've tried to work out why I don't like this band, I'm not really sure. Maybe it's that instead of trying to flag down as many bandwagons as you can and coralling them into your circle of musical preferences, why not keep an ear open for bands whose music makes you feel something. That indecipherable, unspeakable sense of emotion that only music can ilicit. Maybe it is that sometimes you'll come across music which you can see has so many other people enamoured but no matter how hard you try or however hard you can appreciate the musician's efforts, intelligence, concepts and musicmanship, sometimes you just have to accept music for what it is at it's most elemental. A group of vibrations created by a group of people which when processed by a bunch of neurons makes you feel something in your gut.