The most dangerous part of being a music fan is that I like so much music. At a young age in the '70s I can remember being exposed to bands like Spyro Gyra, The Platters, Devo, Cheap Trick, Buddy Rich, Claudio Villa, and The Bee Gees to name a few.
As I grew up and started to make new friends, I watched MTV practically from day one, so I have all that pop and new wave stuck in me. Then enter rap music and heavy metal in the early/mid-eighties. I was break dancing to the soundtrack of Beat Street with friends and listening to Iron Maiden and Ozzy with other friends. College was mostly Coltrane. And some grunge, Bob Marley, Faith No More and hip hop’s greatest years. And so on and so forth. As days pass, we engulf ourselves in new music we find. It’s a wonderful journey.
So why is it dangerous? Well, when you collect music, that open-mindedness makes the shopping list a bit out of control. You don’t pass on much. On a recent record hunt I walked away with Robert Palmer, Sisters of Mercy, Mojo Nixon, Brian Ferry, GBH, The Goons, Jason and the Scorchers and the soundtrack to The Odd Couple.
Luckily though, there’s one form of music that I’ve always saved money on over the years: new country. No matter how much I love music or how open-minded I am (and trust me, I’ve heard and own some really weird shit), I can’t do new country. And it’s basically gotten to a place where I get super irritated whenever I hear it.
It pretty much goes without saying that everyone likes Johnny Cash, and rightfully so. Patsy Cline too. I’m even all about George Jones, Merle Haggard, Hank, Hank 2, Hank 3, Tammy Wynette, Marty Robbins, Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Buck Owens, Glen Campbell, Chet Atkins, Emmylou Harris, Dolly and some others. You bring me the new kids though? That pop-meets-Southern flavored concoction and I’m out. How about those new country dudes wearing baseball hats sideways and waving their hands like they’re in a rap group? Oh boy, is that annoying.
I’m a fan of pop music and the forms it can take, but this stuff always comes off as fake, soulless plastic to me. It’s not adventurous. It’s all too similar. I try, though. The musicianship on these records and on stage are always top notch. Country artists always have the best musicians backing them. They also took over the live music game — rock 'n’ roll, you got robbed! Country concerts are now KISS meets U2 meets Michael Jackson and they pack in massive crowds. Still, that’s not enough to sell me.
Over the years I’ve come to like (or tolerate) quite a few bands, but new country still hits an ongoing roadblock with me. Will I continue to try to understand it? At this point, probably not. I’ve done enough to come to the table on my own. It’s about time the music serves up something at the table worth chowing down on.
I asked a few local music friends if there’s any music they still can’t work into their collections.
Tim Tierney (Owner, The Studio)
"I definitely have a love/hate thing with prog-rock bands. I always admired the musicianship, but there were too many bands making overly produced, unmemorable music. When punk came along it ended up being the perfect antidote."
Shane Reis (hip hop artist)
"I don't understand screamo music. How someone could sit and listen to another human scream (try to emulate a dying animal) is absolutely wild to me. I can go out on a limb and say I understand listening to it before a football game (if you’re playing it in) or maybe prior to a fight. I often question a human’s integrity after finding out they listen to screamo music."
Spencer Albee (musician)
"The Boss. I've never been able to get into Bruce Springsteen. Too much hollering all the damned time. Sure, I like a couple of his songs, but I haven't been able to tap into that vein of adoration that so many millions have. That said, I refuse to write him off because someday I may see the light, so I keep a copy of Born to Run and Nebraska in my vinyl collection in case the spirit moves me. This same tack worked for me and Insane Clown Posse. Just kidding. They're c***s."
Kevin Billingslea (guitarist, Too Late The Hero)
"I've never connected with excessively happy music. Bubblegum-pop and the like. It's always felt so mechanical and fake to me. I've always loved sad music because it always makes me sad. Not that I enjoy being sad, per se: but I like that it can invoke that feeling in me. But happy, poppy, sunshine and farts music always bounces right off me."
Kelly Huston (singer, BeautifulWeird)
"One band that came to mind that I have never gotten into and definitely don't see myself ever being able to like is Five Finger Death Punch. To me, they sound like bad wrestling music that's missing their attempt to be heavy."
Xander Nelson (musician)
"I've never been a fan of death metal. The constant screamed vocals, at least to my ears, almost seem as if they’re trying to get you to turn it off. I always listen for melody in music, regardless of the style, and death metal just doesn’t seem to have much there. But to the genre’s credit, not having a melody is pretty punk rock."