Music Tastes - Don't Care Much For Country, Blues, Or Latin Styles - Music Must Come From A Place Of Passionate Engagement With Life - Great Art, Great Music Should Be Universal In Appeal

Cultural Criticism - August 6, 1997


In sifting through another box of CDs, I find myself putting into the sell pile all country and blues titles I come across.  Anything mellow, folksy, or the product of someone who sounds bored is immediately rejected. 

I am struggling to determine why it is that I feel this way about most of the music under the blues and country genres. 

Whatever actions I take, I generally try to find a moral or spiritual high ground to justify them.  But there is a chance -- in this case -- that I am motivated by a culturally-biased, substance-less preference. 

I was not raised with this kind of music. Perhaps that is why I am not emotionally open to it.  But I hate admitting to such personally limiting factors in my life.  I have endeavored over the years to develop a worldview that incorporates all social products.  That is, if something is truly good, no matter where it comes from, I believe that I will find it so.  It is because love, God consciousness, music, and genius are to a great extent universal in nature.  If something is good in the U.S. it should also be good in Zaire.  But since I am not nearly as unfettered as God, it may be beyond me to approach such a panoramic appreciation of things.

For me to like music it has to be coming from a place of passionate engagement with life.  Usually that involves strong feelings of pain and loss, or a passionate love and desire. The music can be highly introspective, or passionately absorbed in external attraction.  Ninety percent of music does not fit such criteria.  Most music is trite, uninspired rationalizations that seek to heighten the erotic appeal of distraction and not seeking problems through to their inner core.   

Comment from November 10, 2012

I am not terribly certain of much these days. Just that I am suffering. But the Buddha already figured that one out, so no new ground being broken on that count. Regarding music, since writing this piece I have worked with people who loved Hawaiian music in one case, and country in another. I amassed a few thousand songs of each genre during my association with these people, and allowed them to control the music played in our shared work environments. At first I was aghast at Hawaiian covers of many famous "mainland" pop songs. I saw the music as being poorly imitative and not evidence of true creativity. But I've changed my tune on that, and have come to like some of the Hawaiian remakes (of Eagles songs, for example) as being superior musically and emotionally to the originals they are based on. Similarly, I came to appreciate Johnny Cash and Don Williams a whole lot more than I did before. That is not to say that I go out of my way to listen to them, but I at least respect their music for being "good" as far as good country music goes. I even went online once and purchased 11 versions of Glen Campbell's "Wichita Lineman" by different artists, such as R.E.M., Cassandra Wilson, Dennis Brown, and Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66. If I am with someone who enjoys such music, I'll be content to listen to many hours of country and Hawaiian music if need be. I forgot to add that Latin music, especially music from Mexico, is a music genre for which I have collected a few thousand songs for the same reasons while I worked in the Monterrey area of California. Though I don't typically choose to listen to Latin when I am alone, if I am with people who prefer it, I will be happy to coexist in a work environment whose atmosphere is set to it.


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