I’ve come to a horrible, depressing realization. I’m not cool enough to listen to the music I like. I can’t tell you how disappointed I am in my unhippitude.
See, I’m a big, dopey-looking goofy guy. I’m married, I’ve got a house, I work an office job… it’s a good life, but it’s by no means a cool life, you know? At the same time, my musical tastes have morphed over the years. I really dig some of the electronica, and techno, and dance stuff that the kids are wiggling to these days.
(At least, I think those are the right terms. Frankly, I’m not cool enough to even be sure. Maybe I like house, too. Dunno. Some of the stuff I listen to is probably drum ‘n’ bass. Couldn’t tell you. For all I know, I’m into something called ‘trip-hop’. I always thought that was just the awkward little move I do when I catch my toe on a crack in the sidewalk. Who knew?)
I blame two events in my musical experience for this unfortunate and embarrassing position. The first occured a few years ago, when I recruited an old high school friend of mine (who’s now hosting this server, by the way; it’s all circles within circles, people) to come work for a startup company I was with at the time. Well, he agreed to join us. But I never knew he was gonna bring techno with him. Why the hell don’t people put these things on their resumes, anyway?
In retrospect, I suppose I should have known. Back in ‘the day’, this guy always had a penchant for the groovetastical grinding crap. I think he owns every Depeche Mode CD ever pressed, for instance. Come to think of it, he’s struggled with this problem just about his entire life. And I say ‘struggle’ because, let’s face it, folks — he’s no cooler than I am, if you can believe that. Seriously. We’re from the same place, had similar childhoods, we both work with computers. We’re not exactly ‘the lyrical Jesse James’ here, if you know what I’m saying.
(Personally, I think I have just the slightest edge on him, coolness-wise, these days. Sure, I blog, and read nerdy books, and do standup comedy. And I’ll admit, those are three very big strikes against me. But did I mention that he’s the sysadmin, essentially, for this machine? And that he lives in Ohio, of all places?
Well, if that doesn’t convince you, how about this — dude’s got kids. I rest my case, baby. Game, set, and match.)
Anyway, I resisted most of his techno budda-boom-budda-boom nonsense. At least, I thought I resisted it. But that shit’s like a virus — just when you think you’ve shaken it off, it comes storming back and drops your ass on the ground like a hockey dad pissed about his kid getting crosschecked into the boards. Prodigy was the first little nasty to worm it’s way in — my buddy listened to a lots of their stuff, but only a couple of songs got to me. ‘Firestarter’. ‘Breathe’. And of course, the winner of the ‘Song I’d Most Like to Sing to a Busful of Nuns’, ‘Smack My Bitch Up’.
(Just imagine — how cool would that be? Standing in the bus aisle, snarling, ‘Smack mah beeeetch up!‘ I’ve gotta believe that the looks on their easily-outraged red little faces would make it all worth it. And I can think of worse ways to go out than the ‘Death By a Thousand Ruler Thwacks’. Not many worse ways, mind you. Drowning in gasoline, maybe. Eaten by Al Roker is up there somewhere. But there are a few, definitely.)
So, that little ‘synthesizer seedling’ got planted in my brain, and settled in for some nice, tasty germination. Nothing much came of it for a while — I still listened mainly to Dave Matthews and U2 and old ’80s bands like the Call and the Alarm and the Replacements, just like a guy like me is supposed to. And that was fine — those bands are somewhere on the proper side of the cool spectrum; they’re just not too cool. I didn’t listen to anything that I couldn’t back up with the rest of my semi-cool life. On the other hand, I wasn’t bopping my pooper to shit like Hootie or Alanis Morrisette, either. Give me some credit, folks.
(And please, forgive me that brief but oh-so-shameful time I spent listening to Creed, all right? Look, I thought they were Nirvana, okay? Nirvana was cool, Pearl Jam was hip for a while, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden… how the hell was I supposed to know ‘which one of these things doesn’t belong’? I told you I wasn’t particularly cool; don’t put so much pressure on me, dammit. Send out a memo or something, for chrissakes.)
Anyway, that brings me to the other ‘whammy’ that turned me down the road I’ve walked down lately. There was this bar, back in Pittsburgh, that we used to end up in quite a bit. Like, every week, and sometimes twice. And why not — it was close enough to stumble home from, had pinball and a pool table, served cool microbrews, and the bartenders knew (unlike just about every other ginslinger I’ve run into) how to make ‘liquid cocaines’. But that’s a story for another time, I’m thinking. Or would be, if I could remember anything that happened on the nights we drank those. Yikes.
The other thing this little bar of ours had was a jukebox. And after we’d been going there for a few months, one song kept getting played and catching my attention, over and over again. Finally, I managed to check the jukebox while the song was still on, and found the name and artist: ‘Bus to Beelzebub’, Soul Coughing. Oh, my. ‘Yellow number five, yellow number five,’ indeed.
The rest is more or less history. I went out and bought that Soul Coughing CD. Then the one that came before it, and then the one that came after it. Eventually, I heard ‘Super Bon Bon’, remixed impressively by the Propellerheads. And that was it — by then, I was in ass-deep and sinking. Now, just a few short years later, half or more of what I listen to is electro-techno-breaky-funky somehow. Chemical Brothers, Crystal Method, old New Order, even a bit of the Depeche Mode my friend was always so fond of. I’ve still got a Refreshments CD in the car, and an Alarm compilation, and the Smashing Pumpkins‘ greatest hits, but just about everything else has funk to kick your ass and beats to rock your block. I’m hooked.
Which would be fine, I suppose, but I just don’t feel like I’m living the right life to listen to that much techno. To really do it right, I’d have to lose twenty pounds, wear a helluva lot more black, and find myself some way cooler sunglasses. I don’t have the look, the lenses, or the lifestyle for this, and it worries me. See, I’ve got just about enough ‘street cred’ to pull off Foo Fighters, or maybe some old school cult-status stuff like Camper van Beethoven or They Might Be Giants. Cake is a stretch for me. I feel guilty listening to Red Hot Chili Peppers, for chrissakes, like I’m denying someone cooler and more deserving from hearing their tunes. So clearly, I’ve got no business listening to shit like Paul Oakenfold.
(Which is even more obvious when I admit that I can never remember the guy’s fricking name — I’m always thinking it’s ‘Oakenfield’ or ‘Oakenfeld’ or ‘Okily-dokily’ or some shit like that. Soon enough, I’ll be pulling dark socks all the way up to my Bermuda shorts and mis-singing lyrics in the line at the grocery store. It’s just a matter of time, folks.)
All right. I think you get the point by now, and I’ve beaten this topic just about as far into the ground as I can. Now you know far more about my mismatched musical tastes than you ever wanted, or cared, to find out. And I’ve got Fatboy Slim running through my head. It seems we all have our crosses to bear here tonight. Eh, whatever. Anybody got some cool shades I can borrow for when I’m listening to my tunes? I could at least try to look the part, right?Permalink | 6 Comments