Hating music

September 3, 2008 6:45 AM

I was thinking about something one of our MeFiMu musicians said the other day, in a description of a song post here, about "hating" music. He didn't elaborate, so I don't know if he meant hating music in general, or hating his own music, or hating his life as a musician, or whatever, but it got me to thinking about those inevitable moments when we, as musicians, somehow or other lose confidence, or, well, whatever one can lose. I've never *hated* music per se, but I've certainly felt pretty down, on many an occasion. over the years: for example, those times when it really hits home, like a slug in the jaw, that what you're putting in time and energy-wise is not commensurate with what you're getting back dollar-wise, or interest-from-your-fellow-human-beings-wise. Those are the times when I've felt that being a musician is a raw fucking deal, and I'm just setting myself up for heartbreak and disappointment. So, I wonder, what are the times that you "hate" music, or grow tired of music, somehow, or think of giving it all up and going into the retread tire business with your dad?
posted by flapjax at midnite (33 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

Flapjax, boy do I hear you. Here's two somewhat-related reasons I sometimes want to throw in the towel:

1) I've tried repeatedly to get various musical endeavours started here where I live, and most have met with a "meh" reception at best. This involves things like trying to start a choir, getting a session going, staging a concert, etc. I've been doing some informal surveying, though, and have come to realize that the reasons for these things not taking off are diverse and varied. But most of it boils down to the fact that what I was trying to get started did not meet the public's pre-conceived notions of what they thought they were getting. Getting the fine-tuning right so that it matches the public's expectations is so important, and so hard!

2) Getting the musical version of typecasting. What reputation I have in town hinges on one kind of music I like to perform, but it's not the only kind of music I like to perform. Getting typecast this way means that people don't think of me when they're looking for someone to perform. But, like it or not, it's the impression people have of me, so I have to somehow find a way to work with it.

I know of others who have grown tired of performing and have taken breaks, and I always try to be supportive of them when they decide to put their oar back in the water. It's the least I can do!
posted by LN at 8:00 AM on September 3, 2008

Well, it's got too many notes.
posted by COBRA! at 8:44 AM on September 3, 2008 [2 favorites]

I have to say that I've never gotten to a point where I hate music. There are plenty of times when I feel worn out a bit on making music (mainly when I don't feel like I'm able to think of anything good), but I'm always listening, always have one or more songs stuck in my head.

But I also don't perform live a great deal, so being ensconced in my studio making music I'm not sure anyone else will really like (which I have to admit is usually the outcome) kind of suits me.
posted by chimaera at 11:50 AM on September 3, 2008

I sure have gotten tired of being in a band sometimes, especially when my band was doing a show every week. But that was all about the logistics and feeling like I was driving around more than I was playing music. Oddly, the other thing that makes puts me in a music hating mood is when I feel like I have to do it for other people instead of myself, which is in contrast to lack of response from other people.

Usually when I feel like that I spend some time playing video games or walking the dogs until I get bored and pick up the ol' banjo again.
posted by smartyboots at 11:56 AM on September 3, 2008

There's a reason I play ukulele and use the internal mic for most of my recordings as of late: the more complex my musical desires get, the more frustrated I get that I can't achieve them, arrangement-wise. Anything involving multiple instruments is, for me, a hit-or-miss affair; when I get it right, I'm thrilled, and when I can't get it right, I want to throw my equipment through a window, and it puts me off playing for days. Ultimately I decided I like to leave the high-lux arrangements to those with talent and money, and just enjoy the fruits of their labor -- and for my own creative endeavors stick with a single instrument that on a good day excites me just as much as a successful multi-instrument arrangement, and on a bad day merely makes me think "well, that was crap, I guess I won't record that one. Time for lunch!"
posted by davejay at 10:03 PM on September 3, 2008

I feel the need to answer this since I was the one who said I hated music. I shouldn't have said it, but I did. Not that I don't feel that I hate music sometimes, and especially lately. I do. It's more a factor of the culture I was a part of--stoic and all that. Anyway, I listen to it all the time, it comes into my head at all hours of the day and has since I was 11, and I force myself to stay in bed most nights when an idea comes to me just before I drift off. I write about it occasionally and I write music constantly. But I do hate it a lot. There are a lot of personal reasons why I said that when I posted that song. This isn't about that. These are a few general reasons I find myself hating music a lot:

* Nostalgia.

* Songs that are the equivalent to a 4th grade fart joke give me minstrel cramps. Could you at least make it an elaborate fart joke (look for versions of The Signifying Monkey).

* Money. Also, people who believe all music should be free and that musicians should really be doing something else because, damn, why would you ever expect to make a living at music when it's free like the wind. Gillian Welch does a great song about this. And before you get your pants in a twist, I give away most of my music for free, but if you like a song, send the artist some money, buy a t-shirt, go to a show. I don't come to where you work and smack the dick out of your mouth and scream that you should be doing it for free.

* Radiohead. Way to stick it to the man, mates. There's thousands of people who have given their music away online and asked for donations (we've been doing it since 2003 and we got the idea from other people doing it--and it was done before that as well). Unfortunately, most of those people haven't already made a lot of money in the music industry. Also, just listen to Autechre instead.

* People with little taste and no sense of history discussing music makes me hate music. Try reading a music discussion on the blue sometime. People with these qualities who create music make me want to die.

* People who pander to their audience. Audiences that either don't know they're being pandered to or expect it like little brats (see the one about free music above).

* People who scream "Hipster!" like it's a dirty word. Also, hipsters.

* Most pop music I hear nowadays. And by pop, I mean most anything that isn't a horror movie soundtrack from 1925 to 1992 (that seems to be all I've been listening to lately).

I hate music all the time, but it's because I love it so much that I can't get away from it.
posted by sleepy pete at 11:32 PM on September 3, 2008 [2 favorites]

sleepy pete writes: "Minstrel cramps"

That's the funniest thing I've read all week. And I know the Gillian Welch song you're referring to: what a great song that is. (But I'm damned if I can remember the name of it right now, and I don't have a copy handy... I HATE that!)

I hate music all the time, but it's because I love it so much that I can't get away from it.

Like the song says, it's a thin line...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:57 AM on September 4, 2008

I listen to it all the time, it comes into my head at all hours of the day and has since I was 11, and I force myself to stay in bed most nights when an idea comes to me just before I drift off.


I don't think I ever hate music, although sometimes music makes me hate myself. Sometimes there's really just too much music in my head and I can't get it out. I've got hundreds of sixteen-bar sketches lying around that I can't manage to finish because there's always something else. It's frustrating, and makes me feel as though I'm failing at music. Which makes me a bit bristly about the whole concept.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:19 AM on September 4, 2008


I've written and deleted my long response a few times. Thanks. I feel much better now.
posted by lothar at 10:00 AM on September 4, 2008 [3 favorites]

Funny you should mention it, flapjax. I'm pretty down and almost out myself, not having nearly the drive and tenacity so many people here do.

There are a lot of reasons why I'm discouraged and uninspired (LN's mention of other people being tepid about her projects hits home) but essentially, I just don't think I'm tough enough. I usually write songs in confessional mode, although often obliquely. Not too long ago, someone used a song I wrote in his podcast and made a joke about it being a good song for some listener of his whose dog had died. I don't think he meant to be mean -- I doubt he even knew what the song was about -- but I'd written it about and for my mother, who very recently died. I saw the black humor of it but I couldn't laugh.

It's a small and ridiculous story, but it's not the only one I have, and right now it seems a fool's errand to create and release things from such a vulnerable place when it seems to reach so few people.

When my husband and I first started making music he was in the same place I'm in now, wanting to quit, and I told him about this idea I have. It's called the book of unknown connections. No matter how small and obscure you are or how pointless what you do seems, if you create with a sincere heart and then offer it to the world, it will connect to someone. You may never know it. But the change it makes in that person will connect you to someone else, and on it will go, and untold time away it will influence some new creation. Each act becomes a word, a line -- and occasionally someone does something so rare and beautiful that it creates a new chapter, but no one could ever know all the words that made it possible. It is the biggest book you'll never read.

That book is what we started writing together for, and I still believe in it. But I've forgotten how to feel in my heart that even if one person connects to what we do it's not all been in vain. It's a lost and lonely place to be.
posted by melissa may at 11:04 AM on September 4, 2008 [5 favorites]

i can't say i've ever hated music itself, but i sometimes hate a lot of what surrounds it. and i often hate the baggage i personally bring to the practice of trying to make music.

see, my problem is, i'm old school: i believe in beauty (go ahead, laugh it up). and to me, music at its best is about trying to make something beautiful. and beauty--whatever more particular form it takes--is intrinsically valuable. almost too valuable to be wasted on us. so valuable i sometimes feel like trying to make beautiful things is a moral obligation, because whether anyone appreciates it or not, once a beautiful thing exists in this world, it has a life of its own. that's the kind of crazy old school nonsense i believe, against all my better instincts, when i'm honest with myself. it makes me feel a gnawing guilty feeling in my gut whenever i'm not devoting enough time to making music because it haunts me to think some beautiful thing my fumbling efforts might have helped bring into the world won't make the passage because i failed in my duties as metaphysical midwife. but then i get caught up in this guilt spiral, where i start to avoid making music completely because i don't want to face up to how unfit i am to the task, which of course makes me feel even more guilty and unfit, and on and on.

then eventually i snap out of it, realize that the actual practice of making music (as opposed to just thinking about it and navel-gazing a lot) is so much more immediately rewarding, satisfying and fun than indulging in dismal fantasies, and then who cares about the rest of that stuff, and so for a while, i fall in love with at least that aspect of music again.

otherwise, i'd echo a lot of what melissa may and sleepy pete said (although i might leave out the part about radiohead, which has made some really beautiful music, IMO). the greatest shame is that music is such a commodity now. it has the feel to it of something that's had much of its substance drained away--just recently in human history, music was commonly held up as the loftiest kind of spiritual language; now it's reduced to background music on a trip to the local grocery store. that's what, if anything, i hate about music.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:20 PM on September 4, 2008

What makes me hate it is possibly the same thing that makes other people not like their art: when I feel that the thing about it that does it for me is missing, then the motivation to continue without that thing is extremely hard to get going.

For example, I really love to play with other folks, stuff that I like, and play it well. Now that seems simple enough to get going, 'cause I'm not really into anything that weird, but the amount of people who like what I like, who also want to do it well - in this town - is pretty damn small. And this is supposed to be the "live music capital of the world" (hey don't shoot the messenger, I didn't call it that, buddy).

Still, I am a stubborn, stubborn guy and have not thrown in the towel yet. I'm considering moving to a new city before I do that. Or, if I can no longer do it as well as I'd like, I will perhaps consider going into the retread business as flapjax suggets. But more likely I'd just switch genres.

My point is - it would not be enough for me to just make music by myself, or just keep writing & recording these things that I post for the intarwebs, because that is not what it is about music that makes me tick.
posted by bitterkitten at 4:12 PM on September 4, 2008

I kind of do this. I think it's more music fatigue, though.

As far as listening to music, I used to just love going on frequent CD-buying binges, (and albums before that.) It's much rarer now, although I still buy a bunch at once when I do go. But I find I get in these phases where I hate all the music I have, everything that's on the radio, etc; all music just seems boring to me and it's an effort to find something to put on in the car or for a party or just for listening. I just get sick of music. Someone will go, "check out this new thing!" and I'll just think it's crappy or derivative or annoying. And I'll just put on CBC Radio.
Then, after a while, it goes away and I like things again and feel inspired. Maybe it's a getting older issue.

With regards to recording music, I often get into a "what's the point" mindset.
Sometimes it seems like this huge effort. I think it was Alfred Hitchcock who hated the actual production part, the filming of movies, because by that time the movie was already finished in his head and it was a drag to actually go through the work of doing it so everyone else could see it. I feel like that, a bit, on occasion. In addition, I tend to wreck songs by trying to record them.

But then I get into it again and it's fun when something comes out how you heard it in your head or when weird little things gel together that make it better and for a few days it makes you happy to listen to it over and over (sure it's a bit masturbatory, but come on, we all do it.)
Which brings us to ego and a big part of the whole making music thing. There's a big ego jolt when someone likes something you've done and of course it's a motivator. I don't get the "I just love making music, for music's sake" thing because then why would you record it (and release it/distribute it/sell it/upload it?) If it's just for the joy of music then play it to yourself or join a drum circle or something.
There's something about other people hearing something you did, which can take you back to hating it again if you get a bad response (or no response.)
posted by chococat at 5:36 PM on September 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

I can get frustrated by certain music at certain times--specifically, for instance, when I cannot get a song (usually a commercial jingle or pop hook) out of my head for days upon days, and it's wedged in there, interrupting thought processes, etc. But that's been rare lately, and that's not made me hate music itself, just the groove that my brain is stuck in.

When I go to bed at night, that's when the radio of my brain starts playing all these fantastic songs to me. Also when I'm driving. I used to berate myself for not writing all these riffs and melodies and passages down, not carrying a tape recorder, etc. But mostly these days, I just enjoy it.

I don't have the drive to "pour myself" into the music I write, nor do I expect anyone to "get" what I'm recording or playing or listening to, to be on that same exact wavelength, or even close. (It's nice when it does happen, but it's kinda rare. Processing music thru the brain is such a personal thing.) I think just the playing of music--whether tapping a beat on your desk with a pencil, strumming some chords, or playing the flugelhorn--is therapeutic at a wordless level. The natural want for the body to get into rhythms, all that.

When I think, which of my senses would I least like to lose? It's always hearing. I hope my hearing is the last to go. Period. Mostly because of music. I feel sad for people when they say they hate music. I wish I could say, "Here, love music!" and wave my magic wand.

(I'm not sure if this comment makes any sense, but I'm not gonna edit it.)
posted by not_on_display at 6:44 AM on September 5, 2008

I don't hate music, I love it. But music seems to hate me.

I love making music and I thrive in a jam-type setting., I can improv, follow, lead, noodle, hold down the beat, whatever I need to do when there's another musician to riff off/with. Unfortunately my circumstances right now preclude any kind of live jamming, so I got a small recording setup to play around with. But when I sit down at the sequencer, with all my gear on and the black screen staring at me, I just freeze up. I can't do a damned thing. So I start iTunes and jam along with what whatever comes up on random and feel good again. Hey, maybe this isn't so hard after all. Quit iTunes. Start up the sequencer. Brain freezes up again.

It's like being impotent. No, it is being impotent. It happened last night, and this morning all I wanted to do was sell all the equipment I've collected.

for example, those times when it really hits home, like a slug in the jaw, that what you're putting in time and energy-wise is not commensurate with what you're getting back dollar-wise, or interest-from-your-fellow-human-beings-wise.

Also, this, right here.
posted by lekvar at 7:29 PM on September 5, 2008

I've been completely jaded to the point of hopeless cynicism, but I don't know if I would count that as "hating music". I'll elaborate in a post telling the whole tale with music someday soon, but I formed a complete joke of a band performing ambient/drone/doom music, we were a ridiculous joke band who formed specifically to get free drinks one afternoon before a show at a bar that night. We were two guitarists, a bassist who didn't play bass, and a drummer who had never picked up a stick in her life. Our song was 5 notes, nearly 25 or minutes, and after two live performances we were grouped into the "awesomest doom metal that Portland has to offer" category with other actually worthy bands like Aldebaran , and YOB by a local hipster rag.

That was when I realized that you can play no thought, no talent garbage but as long as you put on a good show pretending you care and have members of other more popular bands then you are loved by default, no matter how unnecessary your music is.
posted by mediocre at 12:47 AM on September 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

That was when I realized that you can play no thought, no talent garbage...

That is to say, punk, no? And, I reckon, no music is *unnecessary*, as long as there's some folks who *like* it...

But... the "pretending you care" bit, that's no good, is it? Why should you pretend you care? Then you're only insulting yourself, really.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:43 AM on September 6, 2008

I hate bad music. And by that, I mean music written by men in the 40s to be sung by girls in their late teens, or, more properly, not sung, but sort of warbled, and then forced into tune electronically. These songs are generally lyrically inane, trading in broad, inaccurate cliches about romance, and melodically borrow from a few catchy hooks, but then rely on talented producers to loop over so many production tricks in order to make it pass as songwriting. This is not music, it is a crafty forgery, designed as a marketing device, by people who do not like music so much as they like fame and money. It's crass and it's juvenile and it's polluting our airwaves and it will be forgotten in 10 years.

I hate that stuff.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:04 AM on September 6, 2008

I think it was Alfred Hitchcock who hated the actual production part, the filming of movies, because by that time the movie was already finished in his head and it was a drag to actually go through the work of doing it so everyone else could see it. I feel like that, a bit, on occasion.

I feel this way too, a lot. Now that I have proper equipment, I rarely bother to sit down and record things -- I have way more demos from back when I played into my laptop's crappy internal mic. As usual, the tools get in the way.
posted by danb at 12:55 PM on September 6, 2008

It's not the music I hate, it's the fans.
posted by dobie at 10:53 PM on September 6, 2008

How to hate music:

Step 1: Make sure no one knows who you are (this part is easy)
Step 2: Go on tour (this part is kind of hard)

Congratulations, you now hate music!
posted by ludwig_van at 11:12 AM on September 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

I hate bad music. And by that, I mean music written by men in the 40s to be sung by girls in their late teens, or, more properly, not sung, but sort of warbled, and then forced into tune electronically. These songs are generally lyrically inane, trading in broad, inaccurate cliches about romance, and melodically borrow from a few catchy hooks, but then rely on talented producers to loop over so many production tricks in order to make it pass as songwriting.

You hate everything I love.
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 2:33 AM on September 8, 2008 [2 favorites]

Yeah, Astro Zombie, you could've condensed that and just said you were a rockist.
posted by ludwig_van at 8:06 AM on September 8, 2008

OK, after letting my joke answer fester for a few days...

I agree with a lot of what saulgoodman said above. At bottom, I guess I'm coming at music from a pretty sharply-inwardly-defined aesthetics/beauty angle, and to be honest, that's do subjective that I don't know if it's even worth talking about for me. I love what I love and I hate what I hate and at this point that reaction's based on the taste I've developed from listening to music for a long time. And usually if I try to justify those loves or hates, it's just post-hoc rationalization of something that happened at a subconscious level (I hate The Hold Steady in my gut, not my head, dammit).

But I guess the more interesting (to me) way that I hate music is in making it. I have a pretty intense love/hate attachment to being in a band. When it works (and it usually works) it's the best thing in the world. But I've got pretty strong aesthetic ideas, and occasionally some control issues, and the other guys in the band aren't exactly without their own aesthetics and desire to shape the sound, and, well, the tension and compromise that results can be really hard for me to deal with. Especially since even though the stuff we disagree about is very tiny in the big picture (does the world care if a guitar part's too intrusive?), we're all so emotionally invested that it seems like the biggest stuff in the world. In the normal flow of my life, nothing really puts me in a worse mood than a band practice that's gone a little sour.

I dunno. It's a cliche, but for me both of the bands I've been deeply involved in have wound up feeling like 5-way marriages, with constant give and take (so I have nothing but amazed respect for people who successfully make music with the people they're married to). The funny thing is that whenever I look back, there are lots of times that I've argued a position that was clearly wrong; that guitar part was intrusive, that bridge did make the song way too fucking long. But I guess the give and take is an important part of any collaboration (I wonder if it's a factor that this is happening in Minnesota, where culturally we're all more inclined to blandly agree while keeping our dissenting thoughts to ourselves). Like I said, I love it when it's good and hate it when it's not. And most of the time it's love, but there are definitely nights when I drive home from practice thinking that the thing I like best about cartooning is that I get to make all the decisions on my own.
posted by COBRA! at 8:14 AM on September 8, 2008

Yeah, Astro Zombie, you could've condensed that and just said you were a rockist.

Nah, ludwig_van, I don't think you've quite nailed it there: that'd be an inaccurate oversimplification. Just go listen to some of AZ's stuff here at MeFiMu. Most all of it predates "rock" by a few decades, in terms of its atmosphere and aesthetic.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:24 AM on September 8, 2008

Well I was being somewhat flippant, but are you familiar with rockism, flapjax? AZ's comment was perfectly rockist.
posted by ludwig_van at 8:53 AM on September 8, 2008

Aha! No, indeed, I genuinely had no idea this was a bit of Official Terminology, born in the 80s English music press. So, thanks, ludwig_van, for the Wiki link. That's what I like most about MeFi: learning something new to me!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:04 AM on September 8, 2008

I hate that I don't really have any stories about hating music. It feels like a shortcoming, a failure of imagination, an indictment of passion. I've had more and less musical phases, times when I've been very actively writing and recording vs. times I've been less so, but it's more of a tide amongst everything else going on in my life—creatively, emotionally, recreationally—than any conscious embrace or rejection of music from year to year.

I can second much of what folks have mentioned about fatigue, and the difficulty of brokering the dynamics of a band (especially the first band I was ever in, ye gods what meaningless, useless drama that entailed), and the frustration of slim-to-nil motivation even when the body is willing, but none of that is anything against music itself, which remains mostly this kind of constant, I don't know, potentiality that sometimes I'm engaging with and sometimes not.

And every once in a great while I'll listen to something and just really get torn up and feel something like a desparate need to do something about it, and it's times like that that I feel like maybe I understand what other people feel about being a musician. And it worries me that that happens to me so rarely, and usually leads to so little output even when it does. That's what happened when I covered Fidelity, and even then I got all of one cover out of it.

I hate that 90% of the time music doesn't feel any more important to me than any other random shiny thing that might catch my attention. I hate feeling like a talented poseur standing complacent in a crowd of people who are tearing their guts out over their art.
posted by cortex at 9:23 AM on September 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

That is to say, punk, no?


I may as well elaborate here, since I don't think MeFiMu can handle the awesome file size of even a modest MP3 from this old band of mine..

Click here link to listen to the band while reading this story, the song should be over by the time you're done (it's 24 minutes and change)

So one afternoon in the summer of 2007, myself and a few friends are drinking in a field as we often did on nice days. Friends of ours in the band Nux Vomica were playing a show at the much-missed second sketchiest dive bar in Portland: Club Paragon. Myself, and my friend Cody of cult folk-metal act Oakhelm (AKA koaDiaKilla of the absolutely inapproriate kapn.fulz song "Aged To Perfection") decided to form an off-the-cuff dronedoom band but not tell anyone what it was until we played later that night. Our friend Mitch on vocals and Lindsey on drums (never ever played any instrument) rounded out the lineup (Mitch would later start playing bass for the group, having a rudimentary knowledge of guitar), and we called ourselves Danny Glover's Underwear Line. An inside joke thats hardly even worth retelling. Nux Vomica told the bar that Danny Glover's Underwear Line would be opening up for them, and we had our alcohol for the evening secured.

You see, Club Paragon used to serve what can only be descibed as an irresponsible, possibly illegal amount of alcohol. When you got a shot of whiskey (which were like 2 bucks and change) they would put a double shot glass in front of you and fill it almost to the top, leaving just enough for you to carry it back to the table without getting Potters on your shirt). I routinely blacked out there, luckily I lived easily within stumbling distance from the place. My nights there would be a mostly-forgotten haze of laughter, makeouts, and the best karaoke Portland has ever seen (but that's a different story all together) from what was mostly a young punk and metalhead crowd. Before the influx of poor white kids moved into the neighborhood it was a primarily black establishment. In the epicenter of what was at one time the crack epicenter of Portland. But gentrification took its course, after the poor white artist/musician kids moved in, the wannabe poor white artist/musician kids moved in, then the outright wealthy built condos, "urban renewel" commenced.. and now the neighborhood is very nice, very hip/urban/artsy, very white. But I digress..

Danny Glover's Underwear Line borrowed Nux Vomica's equipment that night, a couple hours before the show me and Cody wrote the bones of a song on which we would improvise droney stuff. We would point to the drummer when we wanted her to hit the snare or a cymbal. We jumped on stage, blind drunk from the insane amount of drink tickets we were given (4 tickets per member, and half a ticket could get a pitcher of PBR, whole ticket could get any liquor in the house). So between us we had gotten 10 pitchers of beer and several shots before we even went on stage. Vocalist Mitch's lyrics were the names of Danny Glover movies, which he had to read off a sheet of paper. But go on stage we did, Danny Glover's Underwear Line cleared the room and were cut off before we could even finish our cacophony of clearly made up on the spot feedback and downtuned nothing. But we didn't care, we had just performed an elaborate scheme to get free drinks, left some people very confused, some people very annoyed, and had a hell of a story to tell because of it.

The next week, Cody approaches me and says he wanted to refine and record the song we had written just for fun. It didn't take long to flesh out the ideas and turn it into a 24 minute opus of sadness. Incorporating some folk elements (bull horn, jaw harp) as well, we record the whole thing on my laptop in a couple days. We start telling people that Danny Glover's Underwear Line is dead and never existed, but D'GUL was around before the universe began, and when the force of D'GUL's entropy ends it, D'GUL will be around to wait for the next one. We burn 50 copies of the demo, all of them labeled one of six. This was how transparent of a joke we were. We took a cue (stole ideas from) local progressive black metal legends Agalloch by having the cover of the demo be a moody black and white close up photograph of a downtown statue like that of Agalloch's "The Mantle".

We thought that was the end of the joke though, give CD's to a bunch of friends, ha ha.. remember the time we did that just to get drunk for free? Ah.. capricious youth.. But then someone asked us to play a real show, at a real venue, with real bands that we aren't direct friends with. So we decided that since our music was very, very boring we would have to put on a show.


In advance of a different show (every time they asked us back I would react "Really?") the local hipster weekly newspaper grouped us into a category of "Awesome doom in Portland that we should feel lucky to have in abundance". I couldn't fucking believe it, this absoultely transparent joke of a band with literally NO TALENT in some places (only me and Cody were musicians) was popular just because it was on the crest of a (still going strong) trend for Doom Metal in this city. It doesn't matter how mediocre (excuse the pun) your band is, if you're doom, you're popular. And not only was this band doom, we were extreme doom, and we dressed up, and had the hot guy from Oakhelm in it and a chick drummer.. Thankfully, I got blacked out drunk and ruined that show, pissed off the other bandmates, and the band dissolved shortly thereafter. I didn't want D'GUL to be my legacy, and the fact that it is popular almost made me hate music.
posted by mediocre at 10:23 AM on September 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Like the saying goes: "Hate the sinner, love the sin" - but without the hate. I love musical sin and don't waste my energy hating music I don't like and the musicians that create it. Maybe the saying is "love the sinner, hate the sin". That's good, too. Sinners are the best.
posted by February28 at 7:44 AM on September 10, 2008

I've never hated music but I went through a couple years of feeling I had stopped liking music. I was deeply critical of anything I listened to or tried to write, couldn't find anything to listen to that moved me. Went on some antidepressants and started liking music again almost instantly, nice!
posted by frenetic at 6:24 AM on September 12, 2008

i guess i also hate music (making it, at least) whenever something i work on really holds a lot of meaning to me personally, but hardly seems to have any impact at all on other people who listen to it. it feels like a failure, like i didn't do my job right. i think this feeling's already been described somewhere up-thread, but it struck me again recently how often this comes up.

i'm thinking in particular of a song i wrote in the middle of a sort of mini-psychotic break i suffered once (they say psychotic breaks may be accompanied by a profound feeling of silliness, and that's exactly how i felt then, though at the same time, i couldn't stop crying. which also seemed silly. like when it's raining and sunny at the same time.)

it happened on the emergency flight back from a honeymoon trip my wife and i took to visit my birth mom in germany, after my grandmother died unexpectedly of a heart attack triggered by complications from pneumonia. she had, as far as we knew when we left, only had a chest cold. the thought of my grandmother not being in the world anymore was just too much for me to square with my understanding of a sensible reality; she'd been my de facto mother almost my whole life, and really the only person i completely trusted, given how neglectful my natural parents had been.

so i went into this weird little spell on the flight and wrote a poem that eventually became a song i recorded for tangemeenie under the name "seam" (here's a link to a random site google returned where you can stream it, if anyone's curious; i should point out that the album information on that site is completely wrong, though). the view overlooking the wing of the plane got me started thinking about all the things we think of in some sense as destinations that can never actually be reached--like that seam where the sky and sea met that i could see over the wing of the plane just then, or that mysterious hole in everything my grandmother had vanished into when she died, or even that point approaching infinite mass beyond the event horizon of a black hole--and the strangeness of it all, how all those disparate things suddenly seemed connected to each other in some eternal moment of childlike silliness.

when the recording of "seam" was finished, i put it on our record, "faust," which we financed with the leftover proceeds of a bitter probate process that effectively broke up what had until then been a very tight-knit extended family.

some people bought "faust." not many, but enough that it got a second pressing. it also got mostly decent reviews. but none of those reviews ever mentioned "seam," and a couple specifically said things like: "there is no doubt lori's vocals can be more enjoyable then steev's sort of jolty singing style," and "her husband steev also sings, but lori’s vocals are particularly good." since i only sang lead on two songs on that record, process of elimination suggests those critiques were at least partly prompted by my vocal performance on "seam."

and in hindsight, that performance does seem a little weak. but at the time, i wasn't focused on the technical aspects of the performance. i was just trying to make myself feel better, to put my worst feelings into a happy pop song with a big, forced smile on its face. i even sobbed my way through the first couple of takes in that session. in the end, it felt like i'd really accomplished something worthwhile with that song. but i hadn't. not as far as the world outside was concerned.

and nothing about that song is as cathartic to a listener as it was to me: it's just a song. and the media saturated world overwhelms us with songs. now we eat bowls full of songs for breakfast. we bathe in songs, water the lawn with songs, wipe our butts with songs. we write songs that make fun of other songs--we even write songs that make fun of themselves. who could possibly take songs seriously enough to form deep, sympathetic connections to other human beings on the basis of them when the value of songs has been so debased you can find barrels filled with them next to the dollar store check out register?

the realization that the hardest aspects of the work--the interior stuff, the psychological stuff--that goes into making music isn't likely to have any bearing whatsoever on the listener's appreciation for it is another one of those things that kind of makes me hate music(-making) sometimes.

(damn. that went long. it's 3:00 am. probably shouldn't post drunk. can't delete though. too much time invested at this point.)
posted by saulgoodman at 12:21 AM on September 20, 2008 [2 favorites]

Music can become sound pollution in public places - music playing while the t.v. is on, music cranked to the point where the speakers distort, especially when this is done by "professionals" (not the distortion effect pedal on a guitar, but in a stereo or sound system turned all the way up). Those subsonic bass canons you can mount under the car - apparently there are songs written expressly for cruisin' with filling rattlers. I usually tune out "piped in" Muzak, but it's strange when it's playing and no one is around, especially outdoors at night. BTW, they Rick Rolled the whole supermarket the other day - I like to think it was intentional.

The maligned Boom Box is a portable party - the actual music may be horrible, but the intention is to share with others. The Walkman-now-Mp3 player is the opposite - it blocks out interaction with other people. Much as I love music, I don't need it on all the time. And ear buds/headphones are hard on your ears.

Plenty of annoyances in creating music and playing with other amateurs, but hate is too strong a word.
posted by AppleSeed at 7:57 PM on October 21, 2008

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