There’s this awful notion that people have that says you should feel guilty about certain records you like. This forces people to like things ironically and, frankly, people who like things ironically should be rounded up and flogged in a public square.
There’s nothing wrong with liking what you like. Anyone who says otherwise is trying to act cool, and cool people should be buried alive in shallow graves with their loafer-filled sockless feet and year-old festival wristbands. However, there’s such a thing as a Guilty Displeasure. This idea, wholeheartedly borrowed from a friend, looks at those records you just can’t get into no matter how hard you try. All your peers like these bands and they tell you how great they are. They’ve explained them and these records make sense in your head. Everything about them screams ‘this is the band for me!’ yet, somehow, they elude you despite your best, futile efforts.
My record collection is filled with Guilty Displeasures. Records by The Clash, Bruce Springsteen, The Strokes, Incredible String Band, The Smiths, Radiohead, Biggie and Bowie all sit there, expectantly looking at me and wanting to be loved. Sporadically, they’re thrown on the turntable in a bid for me to give them the attention that friends have bestowed on them. They love these tunes. They go buck-wild when they hear ‘Rudy Can’t Fail’, ‘This Charming Man’, ‘Juicy’ or whatever. When they’re gone, these poor fuckin’ LPs are left silently revolving, blankly stared at, unloved and covered in shrug.
That’s not to say I hate them. Far from it. Their cultural relevance is obvious, their importance is well documented. It seems to make good sense and, indeed, is deserved. Yet, no matter how hard I try, I just don’t think ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ is very good apart from the bass line in ‘Money’. No matter how many people I love fawn over ‘OK Computer’, I don’t even get the vaguest flicker of… well… anything other than my own irritation. I’m the one who suffers. I want to like these LPs because my life would be so much easier. Fans of these bands don’t mind that I don’t get them. ‘It’s cool to have different tastes’, they chirrup as they wander off into their blissfully happy lives.
Meanwhile I’m stuck with the music equivalent of post-natal depression. Nothing these albums do, nothing that anyone says can make me yearn for them… and it makes me feel guilty. I’m ravaged with worry that I must be doing something wrong. I didn’t like ‘Forever Changes’ when I first heard it, but one day, a penny dropped and I fell in love. As such, I completely blame Arthur Lee’s Love for my awful predicament. Maybe the timing is wrong. Maybe I’m trying too hard. Maybe I should just leave these albums well alone until they sneak up on me and crawl into my subconscious.
Yet I just can’t let it happen. Like failed drunken sex where you’re faced with a plight akin to thumbing a marshmallow into a moneybox slot, I persevere and get nowhere fast, apart from a sense of unswerving gloom and guilt. I plough on pointlessly, trying to swim through musical soil. It’s frustrating, maddening, redundant and expensive.
Music: I hate you. Why do you have to make things so difficult?