About A Book

בקטגוריות: Uncategorized

31 May 2003

I’ve just finished reading Nick Hornby’s “31 Songs”, kindly given to me by hattie. It’s been lying on my shelf for long enough (Oh, who am I kidding? It’s been lying on anything horizontal enough not to slip off of. My shelf-space is practically non-existent, my storage ubiquitous).
This book is a collection of essays written by Hornby, a music enthusiast (and writer of High Fidelity, the novel the movie is based on), about popular songs he likes, past and present. It’s mostly filled with personal anecdotes, general ramblings and discussions of his particular taste for pop music, despite many peoples’ disparagement of such so-called frivolity.
The reason I had put off reading it for so long (Hattie must have given it to me over a month ago) was that most of the songs covered in the book were ones that I had never heard of – Teenage Fanclub? Ani DiFranco? Who are they?
Others were by names I recognized but didn’t know much of – Springsteen, Wainwright and others.
Only one entry for the Beatles.
None for David Bowie.

Come on, man! What IS this?

But I got over it, and sat down to spend this Saturday reading it. Having finished it now, some 6 hours later, I can now make the same claim I could only suspect before reading it – Hornby and I don’t share the same musical taste. Sure, there are many overlapping zones, but generally speaking, we don’t listen to the same music. We don’t get the same kicks out of the same things.
And you know what? That doesn’t really matter.
Hornby loves music. That’s apparent from the first few paragraphs – from the very existence of this book, or of movies like High Fidelity (which I will one day get around to watching – maybe even today). He listens to music constantly and consistently, and that is something I can really identify with. He reaffirms one of the things I always tell myself I appreciate in a person – musical taste. Not necessarily GOOD musical taste (which is to say, taste similar to mine), but ANY taste. I can understand people who are passionate about music I find to be annoying and inane, but people who are indifferent to music – who can listen to any old thing on the radio, or who can simply NOT listen to music for days on end, or who like whatever’s currently playing on the Top-10 and forget the previous months’ picks – those are the ones I seem to pity, to be wary of.

And Hornby DOES share some of my musical preferences – or shared in his youth, like his teenage passion for punk that has survived as a deep fondness for bands like The Clash or Ian Dury and the Blockheads. He gets the thrill from Springsteen that I get from the Pixies, and Zeppelin… well, who doesn’t like Led Zeppelin?
And most of all, he doesn’t have much patience for classical music. Allow me to quote a passage from his essay on Van Morrison’s “Caravan”:

“I don’t dislike classical music because of its cultivation – I’m not an inverted snob. I dislike it (or at least, I’m unaffected by it) because it sounds churchy, and because, to my ears at least, it can’t deal with the smaller feelings that constitute a day and a week and a life, and because there are no backing vocals or basslines or guitar solos, and because a lot of people who profess to like it actually don’t really like any music (or any culture) al all, and because I grew up listening to something else, and because it does not possess the ability to make me feel, and because I don’t need my music to sound any `better’ than it does already – a great farting, squelching, quick-witten sax solo does the job for me.”

So he got me thinking, and laughing, and nodding in agreement – and most importantly, downloading music. The morning started, even before Hornby, with sampling random bands I’ve never heard of before. Going to some out-of-the-way Indie label’s site, browing some band bio’s and downloading indiscriminately. Made some new friends today, so the day’s not a waste already.

And if any of you run into “Neutral Milk Hotel”, “The Clientele” or “Ladybug Transistor” – check’em out.

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פעם היה לי לייבג'ורנל. עכשיו הוא כאן, מגובה.