Quit these pretentious things and just punch the clock.”
-Arcade Fire, “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)”
I am what some people may call a snob.
My favorite band is one you’ve probably never heard of.
I have a framed vinyl copy of The Beatles’ Revolver on my desk.
It’s part of my constantly expanding collection of vinyl records.
I vastly prefer listening to full albums instead of individual tracks.
I mainly listen to music that is generally regarded as being among the greatest of all time.
I have a “Music” bookmarks tab on my internet browser so I can easily access the fifteen or so music sites that I check regularly.
I take Pitchfork’s album reviews very seriously, and will defend Rolling Stone to the death, even if they are a bunch of old fogeys.
In fact, I am currently at number twenty-four in my quest to listen to every single album in Rolling Stone‘s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”.
I zoom directly to the “critical reception” heading of any Wikipedia article that I read about an album I’m interested in.
I love Spotify mainly because it gives me access to the entire catalogs of artists like The Beach Boys and The Rolling Stones.
I have a deep-seated suspicion (though not hatred) of mainstream pop music.
I have recently begun delving into the filmography of Alfred Hitchcock.
I spent most of my sophomore year of high school eagerly anticipating the release of an album that was supposed to come out almost fifty years ago.
I love progressive rock, except for Rush.
I go to Duke University.
Do you see what I mean? It’s like the odds are stacked against me. Numerous people have called me pretentious, or a snob, or a hipster because of these things.
Like the time my dad announced he was going to a Bob Dylan concert, and when I asked him what his favorite Dylan album was, he couldn’t name a single one. This turned into a fight in which I called him a fake music fan, and he called me a snob.
Or the dozens of arguments I have had with classmates who couldn’t believe that I actually took Pitchfork, the supposed epitome of pretentiousness, seriously. They assumed I must be pretentious too.
Or the time when I told my sister that I was planning on watching My So-Called Life and Freaks and Geeks because I had really gotten into Skins, and I wanted to explore the history of the teen drama television genre. She called me a snob too.
And you know what I replied to all of them?
“Yeah, I am a snob. And I’m proud to be one.”
The way I see it, there are two types of people on this planet: those who create art, and those who consume it. Because I don’t think creating art is my forte, I have chosen to be the best art consumer I can be. I am incredibly passionate about great art, with a heavy emphasis on great music. Discovering new albums is my favorite thing to do, and I think every time you listen to new music, you are expanding your mind and becoming a more intelligent person. And yeah, I use resources like Rolling Stone and Pitchfork to help me out, because I want to listen to the absolute highest quality music, and they have steered me in the right direction so many times in the past. I wish everyone did the same thing, because nowadays, with the internet, it’s easier than ever to listen to great music. Why hasn’t everyone listened to Pet Sounds, Doolittle, and Funeral? I don’t know, and I don’t think I’ll ever understand why some people shut themselves off to awesome music.
“But Noah,” you might be saying, “I just like the music I listen to, and it makes me happy. Why does it matter if I’m listening to the absolute best music ever? Isn’t it more about what I want to listen to? Doesn’t my taste matter?”
That’s like saying you go to the high school art show every year, and you really enjoy it. So what’s the point of going to the Louvre and seeing the Mona Lisa?
I think we need to abolish the idea of “musical taste”. Everyone should be more open-minded than to just like a certain type of music. Screw banning bossy. Let’s ban “taste”.
However, you can listen to whatever you want. I have no control over you, and I don’t want to force anything on anyone.
But don’t for a second think that I’m a sad sack who only listens to serious, ponderous, capital-I Important albums. In fact, my music listening habits (not “musical taste”) have always skewed more towards the pop side of the spectrum. By that I don’t mean I’m a big Katy Perry or Lady Gaga fan. What I mean is that I’ve always preferred The Beatles to The Rolling Stones, and The Beach Boys over Led Zeppelin. All are great bands, but some resonate more with me. And I don’t only listen to rock music made by old white dudes. Hip-hop, funk, soul, indie, alternative, pop. I am passionate about the great music that lies within each of those genres. Last week, I spent a good amount of time listening to Cyndi Lauper’s She’s So Unusual (album number 487 in the Rolling Stone 500), for an article I never got around to writing. And guess what? Cyndi Lauper is freaking awesome. The whole point of my music-listening expedition is to wrap my head around new and interesting things that I wouldn’t have expected to like.
I will never be ashamed to be as passionate about great music as I am. Awesome music (and awesome art in general) is my calling, and it always will be until the day I die.
And if that makes me a pretentious snob? So be it. I will own that epithet.
Yeah, I just used the word “epithet”. Deal with it.
I will never quit these pretentious things. And I will never just punch the clock.
I am snob. Hear me roar.
Please like, share, comment, and follow if you enjoyed this post! Thanks! And if you didn’t, well at least now you know where I’m coming from!