I’m gonna let you in on a little secret. You may have noticed it already. If you didn’t, thats okay. I didn’t advertise it or anything. Here it is: there’s not a lot of negativity on my web pages. That goes for both here and on my Facebook page.
I could go into some high-minded reason why this is so. But the reason is actually pretty elemental:
I don’t see the point.
Believe me when I tell you there is plenty of music in this world I don’t like. A lot of it is flat-out putrid. But I’m not a professional music critic, which means I am not being paid for my listening and literary efforts. So where’s the motivation to spend my precious spare time writing about music I don’t like?
To my mind, there are only two kinds of music in this world: good and bad. I spend more time in certain musical areas than others. But bad music can crop up anywhere. I could spend my time ranting and raving about it, or I could just focus on what I like, and write about that? I prefer the latter.
Some people live to criticize, or dwell on the negative. They find their joy by creating misery for others. That’s not my way. I try to find at least a little value in even the worst music. And if I can’t do that, I just move on to something else. How hard is that?
I’m entering a world where bands are starting to ask me to review their material. I am honored and flattered by this. But I realize it’s possible something I review may not resonate with me. Even then, I try to find the positive aspects of the recording. It’s well recorded. The mixing is top-notch. The recording makes good use of space. Things like that. If I can’t find anything I like, I’ll just leave it at something like, “This isn’t really my cup of tea.” There’s no sense in being a jerk about it.
Here’s another reason I don’t come down too hard on bad music: More often than not, I know I can’t do any better. I’ve heard some really talented musicians make some really bad music over the years. But when I hear them play, I know I can’t do what they do. So why hammer them? It’s easier to say, “Maybe they’ll find what they’re looking for on the next record,” or “That might not be the way I would have utilized his talents.” The point is made, and the tone remains civil.
Besides, I know that critical finger can easily be pointed back at me. Somewhere out there is someone who will read my book and say something like, “This guy is drowning in a sea of his own pretentiousness.” That’s gonna hurt. Hell, I said it about myself a couple of times while I was editing. I hope I got those passages out. But someone will find something to gripe about. Or, they will declare my work incomplete because I didn’t talk about their favorite band. Hopefully, they’ll find a constructive way to complain.
I’m sure there are some who will declare I am little more than a fanboy looking to ingratiate himself into the world of musicians because I won’t go negative. They’ll see it as some kind of inability to tell truth to power, as it were. Well, I AM a fanboy. And once again, I’m not being paid. And I have no problem offering up constructive criticism to those who ask for it. When I start receiving a check to go with the incoming music, I will rethink my stance on going negative.
My goal with this site and my book is to share the joy of musical discovery. Why should spend time telling you which music to avoid at all costs, when I could spend that same time telling you about the music I love? It seems to me focusing on the love is infinitely more productive. And a helluva lot more fun!
Believe me, there are bands and music out there eager to test me. My favorite band in the world is in a place I’m not overly fond of. I’m slowly getting used to it, but I’ll never be all the way on board. They are unbelievable musicians, and they play the material at hand like nobody’s business. They’re just not my cup of tea. There, see what I did? I said I didn’t like something without being mean about it. No harm done.
There is plenty to like about music, and the people making it. I’m a much happier person if I stay where that excitement can be expressed. I’ll leave the venom and vitriol to those who enjoy doing such things, or at least get paid to be that way.
So rest assured, my friends: if I’m writing about a band or a record, you can be almost certain I like it, and want you to enjoy it, too.