Thursday, September 6, 2012

Why, back in my day...

Concerning today’s music scene, there’s no shortage of older folk who are all-too-quick to sneer at modern music, and complain about how the youth don’t appreciate “the classics” of “way back when.” Everyone gets attached to the music of their youth. If those past-jams are the sweet sounds of the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, Louis Armstrong, or Scott Joplin (if they’re very old), that's their the musical “safe zone," I imagine. It’s the reason you get dirty looks from the more wizened generation whilst listening to dubstep, Imogen Heap, or Nicki Minaj. (Note: If you’re listening to Nicki Minaj, you probably deserved it. Just sayin’.)

I hope y’all are sitting down, because I have a secret to reveal: I’M one of those folks; the ones that shake their head at the unwillingness of whippersnappers to listen to the “classics.” I love the Beatles, Louis Armstrong, and heck, even Mr. Joplin. But the neglected classics I’m referring to are the most classic of classics:

Classical music.

Everyone who’s seen a Tom and Jerry cartoon has heard it, and most Zales Diamonds commercials piggyback on it, but fewer and fewer people seem to actually seek it out and enjoy it. Chill out, everyone, I’m not about to start a face-melting rant about how everyone is uncultured because they can’t tell the difference between an aria and an arpeggio. See, that’s just the problem: when others find out I’m a sucker for classical, they may assume that I’m also a prude. “Oh, he listens to Rachmaninoff. He thinks he’s smarter than me. Elitist jerk.” All that, and all they had to go off of was the fact that I liked a little Mozart now and then!

When you think of a classical music enthusiast, what comes to mind? Probably some egotistical self-proclaimed intellectual who listens just to display it on his “look how cultured I am” trophy case.

"A bow tie separates the cultured from the common-folk..."

Or a guy who likes to listen to Brahms while eating the poor sap he just killed, while enjoying a nice Chianti.

"The liver was a bit on the rare side."

Old people? Old people like Chopin, right?

"You kids can't appreciate the classics! You're all so distracted,
what with your cellular phones! And those... those Facebooks!"

Or maybe a hipster, who listens to Schoenberg because no one else does: all other music is too mainstream.

"I find his total lack of key and tonality invigorating. You probably
wouldn't understand..."

Have you actually ever listened to Schoenberg? There’s a reason it’s not mainstream… Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The point is, we’re mighty fine at labeling others. There’s a positive purpose to this, I believe. If a person is crying hysterically, screaming at a wall, and wearing a high school football uniform while biting themself, the guys in the labeling department of my brain look that all up, and come up with, “Do not approach. Probably insane and dangerous. May bite. Recommend not making eye contact.” I'm making a judgement on that person, but it just may be saving me from a round of rabies shots in the near future.

Labeling seems to be especially prevalent right now, with the election coming up and all. Republicans are laughing at the herbal-tea-swigging, tree-hugging, Prius-driving, religion-bashing, work-hating Democrats, when the reality is much less extreme. Or when Democrats are scoffing at the closed-minded, gay-hating, wealthy-boot-licking, anti-intellectual, backwards-thinking Republicans, when, once again, that usually isn’t the case.

Couldn’t we label people with good things? “She stays in her room and reads a lot. I bet she’s a good writer!” Or, “That guy wears a suit every day. I imagine he’s very professional.”

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland put it well when he said:

“Think the best of each other, especially of those you say you love. Assume the good and doubt the bad.” ― Jeffrey R. Holland

Right on, Elder Holland.

But seriously, classical music. Look it up. Chopin is fantastic.



  1. Very well said. I have to admit, the music you listen to is not exactly my cup of tea (sweet tea, of course, and by cup, I mean glass). It makes me judge/label you as a smart person who has broad interests. Not a bad judgement ;)

  2. And the playlist proves your point! Maybe you should consider music therapy as a minor.

  3. welcome back!! I have missed your written word.
    I wonder where your nerdy music love comes from?


  5. Awesome! I totally agree, classical music has a stigma that it doesn't deserve, although my iPod would probably nauseate you.

    You made a great point...that labeling isn't necessarily a sign of mankind's maliciousness, but us trying to feel safe.

    As always, your writing leaves one wanting more ;) And the captions made my day.

  6. Note: I don't ONLY listen to classical. I like some of the more recent stuff as well.

    Except Nicki Minaj.