The hardest question I’ve ever been asked is ironically one I address in these blogs; several years ago, a friend of my parents asked me—then a tenth grader—“What kind of music do you listen to?” The question’s difficulty didn’t stem from a lack of an answer, rather my embarrassment over giving it. I meekly offered two vague words, “Punk rock,” hoping to end the topic, but my questioner would not relent until she heard a name. “Green Day,” I squeaked. A lie, to be sure: I never listened to them. I just figured they sounded credible, though this predated American Idiot. As I then suffered a drubbing over dubbing Green Day punk rock—“Oh they are not punk rock!”—I could only be happy, happy I didn’t say the real band I liked… Blink-182.
Except for The Beach Boys (whom by age eight I’d written off as squares,) I only listened to folk and classical music. Sure I liked some things on the radio, but I never actively sought pop music. I misguidedly tried to fit in with my brother, who only listened to industrial, therefore I rarely admitted liking, say, The Wallflowers. But when in ninth and tenth grade I started getting mp3s (superlegally,) Blink-182 clicked with me. I liked the humour, simplicity, and catchiness. I stopped listening after Take Off Your Pants and Jacket; I moved on, but they opened the door for me to explore my own tastes. At the same time, though, because of the band’s occasional immaturity, sometimes vulgar lyrics, nasally vocals, and the fact that I didn’t exactly fit the demographic of their audience, I felt embarrassed to say I liked them.
But I no longer believe in guilty pleasures. As if certain things out there shouldn’t be liked by people of taste, or liking something makes a body less intelligent, classy, artistic. No more, I say! Tastes don’t need defending. I like what I like and I’m sure plenty of you like what you like. If anyone has a problem with that, tell that person to climb a tree. Pardon my language. I’ve done it, made people feel bad about what they listen to, and this is my apology. Now, I shall bare my musical innocent pleasures to encourage everyone to follow suit:
Matisyahu sure knows how to toast about G-d.
Richie Sambora might be a drunk, but Bon Jovi’s guitarist can really play.