Think of your absolute favorite book, painting, photograph or piece of architecture. Pick one and think about it. Now pretend we are having a beer, talking about it and I tell you that I don’t like it. You shrug, say, “Really? I think its great, but whatever,” and move on.
But now think of your absolute favorite song. Absolute favorite. I’ll wait……………….got it?
Well, it sucks.
Just kidding, I’m sure it’s great. But that raised a few hackles, right?
It has taken me a long time to not write someone off because they dislike Led Zeppelin. (Note: this is different than simply not listening to them) If I caught wind of an overt disdain for their music, then I was certain that I could not be their friend. Plain and simple. Led Zeppelin’s music is wrapped so tightly around a piece of my core that I just didn’t believe it was possible. (Even as I write this, I find myself wanting to delete this paragraph and say, “Screw it. That person would suck.”) Conversely, I have an overt disdain for Bruce Springsteen and I know I’ve widened a few eyes by saying that. He is the working man; he is the heart of America—I don’t feel it. I listen to his music and find myself rolling my eyes.
My usual answer here is “to each their own,” but the curious piece about music, what prevents this adage from working, is that strong musical opinions always have a personal aftertaste, sweet or acrid. If you’re a big Springsteen fan, hearing someone say he’s cheesy will get you going, just as you’ll feel closer to them if they say he’s a god. Same for me with Zeppelin.
Music is the one facet of our world where science, sociology and spirituality converge cleanly. It has a power, an ability to move, unite and divide, and there are infinite manifestations and interpretations. I’m going to add a section to Garling Files about music. To me, the subject is sacred and therefore its examination doesn’t deserve to be mixed with pieces about punditry, commerce and all the other dirty fragments of our world. I’m not going to review albums or write letters to Springsteen or Zeppelin; this section will be a place to ask questions about the fascinating nature of music, how it interacts with us and why we love/hate pieces of its catalog.
Like an idea for a new song, I’m not entirely sure how this is going to look and flow yet, but it will start to take shape soon. Stay tuned….
And just for kicks, a fun cross section:
Caleb Garling lives in San Francisco and is currently working on the book The St George’s Angling Club which will be self-published this summer.