The ’00s in Music: Introduction (Origins of Insufferableness)

I can be pretty insufferable with my musical opinions. My inclinations were validated at too early an age, and too frequently. I knew what I liked before I was aware enough to take any outside factors or opinions into consideration – except for those of my father, an avid consumer of music, novels, films, periodicals, television. Much of our bonding, now as much as when I was a child, has extended from our shared fascination by (and addiction to) the phenomenon of human creative expression. I learned very young the joys of burying myself in art at the expense of learning practical life and social skills. I am certain I was predisposed to be that way, but those genes were undoubtedly only encouraged by a childhood home filled with music and the excitement of regular trips to the record store.

Music was the top art form of choice for me. Before I was old enough to have opinions, I knew more clearly than I knew anything else how I felt about one song over another. Those feelings were pure, emotional, and fervent. Songs were flavors and colors; a favorite was a favorite just because – because it resonated a certain way in my brain, and in my spine. Yes, my father has to get credit because that’s where the initial exposure to music needed to begin (not to sell short my mother, a singer-songwriter and serious music fan in her own right). But no one told me Squeeze was my favorite band when I was six. There was no reason they should rank above any other artist whose LPs were scattered around the house – Springsteen or Dylan or U2 or The Beatles or The Stones or Talking Heads. But, based largely on their 1982 singles compilation, it was Squeeze, just because. Their pop songs tasted the richest, looked the greenest, felt the warmest. I didn’t comprehend the clever, British slang-ridden narrative lyrics, but they always sounded right. And the melodies, and the chord changes (without knowing what chord changes were) – transcendental. A little later, it was R.E.M. that would click in the same way. Later, Radiohead. In every case, the religious center of my brain would seize, and complete discographies were collected and absorbed completely, without knowledge of what the critics said. All I knew of musical tastes outside mine and my parents’ were those of my grade school peers. I knew they were completely different from mine. More than that, I knew mine were informed by greater musical exposure and interest. Superior.

Like I said, I can be pretty insufferable with my musical opinions, and that goes way back. Just imagine the feeling of hitting adolescence in the late ’90s, an awkward and introverted early bloomer, and hearing Radiohead’s “Karma Police” on the radio for the very first time. What the fuck was that? Mind-blowing. Ecstasy. And then, as my musical awareness expanded outside what my father knew about and what the local modern rock radio station would play, I began to explore within the doors of music criticism. And hey, it turns out I’ve been right all along! It’s not just me feeling like Murmur and OK Computer are timeless masterpieces – they are. It’s all over the place, in print, written by people who get paid to listen to this stuff. Does that mean I can get paid to listen to this stuff? Does my superhuman pop intuition grant me a spot on the high council of tastemakers? I pondered this often as I indulged in a much wider spectrum of music than ever before, entering my cold, Prozac teenage years. The music that resonated most became bleaker.

The ’00s, it was clear, were to be my musical decade. I would own them. Beginning as a depressed and obsessive 15-year-old and ending as a 25-year-old “adult,” this would be the (arbitrarily) prime ten-year slice of my life. I was to buy lots of CDs, pirate lots of MP3s, and attend lots of concerts. I would also attempt to write lots of songs of my own, though the expectation for success on this front was considerably and justifiably lower.

Over the next few weeks (or months, knowing me), I’m going to be writing about my musical decade that was. Yes, 2009 is only half over, but I’ll be moving chronologically starting from 2000 so it’ll be a while before I get to the present. I’ll be talking about the music that seemed important to me at the time, the music that has stuck with me, opinions that have changed with perspective, and why I’m hopefully somewhat less insufferable than I was ten years ago. I’ll try to find some relevant videos and things to link to for illustrative purposes. Should be fun, yes? No? Yes.

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One Response to “The ’00s in Music: Introduction (Origins of Insufferableness)”

  1. Chris M Says:

    I think my musical development is about ten years behind yours, so I’m looking forward it, Obi-Wan.

    Surprise us.