Music Snobbery…I Come By It Honestly.
Posted by kitkat37
Many people wonder where and when I acquired the music snob gene. Was it when I tortured Valdosta on the college radio station? That would be the natural assumption, seeing as most college stations find bands like Asteroid Galaxy trendy. (Ever heard of them? My point exactly.) Any of the guys from WVVS circa 1998 will tell you, however, that I was far too mainstream for their tastes. Utopia, my radio show, featured Sponge? Refreshments? Nada Surf? MATTHEW SWEET?? Gasp! I was so trendy in their eyes I might as well have traipsed around in JNCO jeans and blasted No Doubt out of my dorm room. A Dave Matthews tank top might have completed the image.
Trust me, if you think I’m a music snob, those guys had a special room reserved in Hipster Hades, with Manic Street Preachers and Step Kings posters on the walls and a special Radiohead comforter set.
Was it my high school friends? Ha ha! One of my best friends dreamed of marrying a rock star but couldn’t care less if he played grunge or hair metal. She dated more musicians than Pam Anderson and truly believed every song was written just for her. Including “Anthony (Kiss My Ass).” Another friend preferred the likes of the Mamas and the Papas, the Fifth Dimension, or anything that sounds right played around a bonfire by twirling people named Moonbeam and Sun Archer. And the crowning achievement was the friend with the black Camaro and ridiculous bass, the kind of booming amps where every five minutes or so you could make out “Lemme ride that dunky dunky” and the rest of the time was occupied by the sound of imploding Plexiglass as you clung for dear life to the door handle, certain the vehicle was within mere moments of destroying itself, door by door, until there sat nothing but a Camaro skeleton and two hapless flannel-clad high schoolers at the intersection of Stone Mountain and Scenic Highways. With the bass still blasting, tweetering away. It was like South Central meets Redneck Riviera.
If college was a blue state, high school was so red it might as well have been Texas.
I hear many of my Southern-bred cohorts bemoan their social and pop culture restrictions growing up, especially concerning music. Rock was the devil! Bring on the Osmonds! Debby Boone! Anne Murray! Anything harder – paging those heathens in ABBA – could corrupt young minds into wearing white leisure suits and too much Love’s Baby Soft.
I can only imagine what neighbors growing up must have thought of my household. My mother’s tastes, by Partridge standards, were edgy enough – Motown and Donovan? It was all a shameful downward spiral of teased-up Aquanet and fringed vests. So I’m assuming my dad’s records would have sent Betty and Bob next door into coronary arrest. Routinely I was lulled into my afternoon nap by the soothing stylings of the Stones, Skynyrd, and the Doobie Brothers. My dad played air drums to Genesis. He saw the Beatles and the Kingsmen live. Twice. My dad would have no idea what to do with a guitar. He might try to frame it. But he can tell you within five seconds of any rock song from the ‘60s and ‘70s who sang it, what year it came out, and his favorite verse. Maybe even the maternal maiden name of the bass player. I haven’t thrown that one out there yet.
My dad has always had a blatant distaste for pop music. Back in the 80s, Atlanta was the proud home of an oldies station called Fox 97. (Oldies = Played in every furniture store and dental office within a 100 mile radius to ensure innocent patrons forevermore associate sharp objects poking into their gums and paisley sofa beds with Jan & Dean.) My dad likened Fox 97 with internal bleeding of the ear canal. To him, if Frankie Avalon could shimmy to it on a beach, it wasn’t really music. And even when pop music replaced flailing 1960s teens on the Jersey Shore with flailing 1980s teens in shopping malls, it was all still one big aural aneurysm to him.
Hence his horror when the daughter he had faithfully raised on a steady diet of ZZ Top, Paul Simon, and CCR bought herself, using two weeks worth of lunch money, the new Debbie Gibson tape. Bear in mind I was ten years old. TEN. This is an age when you think slime and mutant turtles rock. Not Keith Richards.
Weekend after weekend, my father patiently endured as I happily bopped in the passenger seat of his Chevy Blazer to such critically acclaimed hits as “Electric Youth” and “Shake Your Love.” Until, of course, that fateful Saturday. I don’t know if it resulted from having to fend off rabid Home Depot shoppers with a tazer that afternoon, ingesting one too many sausage biscuits that morning at A&J Tasty Pig Barbeque (I couldn’t make that name up if I tried), or too much verse-chorus-verse a la Deborah “Don’t Call Me Debbie” Gibson. But in one fell swoop, Miss Gibson was unceremoniously yanked from the Blazer tape deck and chucked into the back to its imminent demise among the new lawn tools. I was thusly instructed that I was no longer allowed to listen to anything that involved a beat machine ever again in his car, and “Roadhouse Blues” became our soundtrack for the rest of the weekend.
My next tape was Motley Crue, “Decade of Decadence.” My dad bought me a new boom box in celebration. I think there may have also been a commemorative parade. I’ll check the Gwinnett County records.
So for anyone wondering why I continuously chastise fully grown adults for assaulting their ears along with anyone’s within shooting range with the likes of Fergie and whatever “Lil” rapper is muttering about hos & grills over skating rink music these days, blame my dad. If I was forced to admit my music blew like Katrina when I was all of a decade old, certainly people twice that age should recognize nails on a chalkboard when they hear it.
Even my father has his moments though. A Bee Gees record mysteriously appeared in our Louisville home when I was four years old, and he refuses to discuss it. And one summer afternoon, we were cruising around Atlanta on his motorcycle when suddenly, we crossed into an alternate dimension of hell as what I mistook as a homicidal goat came bleating out of his speakers and I realized my dad had downloaded….I can barely write this without weeping uncontrollably….a Creed single.
Please give me a moment…..okay, thank you.
So the next time he rode in my car, I took special care with the musical selection that afternoon. I sifted through my extensive CD collection of Massive Attack, Drill, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Spirit, the Kinks, Melissa Auf Der Maur, the Ramones, Dot Allison, and Torsion. What would be our soundtrack for the afternoon?
After careful consideration, I burned an entire CD of Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam. And made him listen.
I mean, Creed? Really. We music snobs have to have our standards.