Music is wonderful. It is said that music is the great unifier, but sometimes it seems to do the exact opposite.
Day in and day out music is fiercely defended. People tell each other their favorite artists are silly or that only one type of music is right. If you like one type of music, it seems unthinkable to some that you find an artist who piques your interest on the opposite side of the spectrum. People get shunned for their musical taste and hide away.
This type of behavior can be detrimental. Certainly, it is detrimental to the person who feels attacked. It happened to me and I’m still feeling the repercussions. Fall Out Boy has been my favorite bands since I was 13, when “From Under the Cork Tree” was released. I’ve seen the band three times in concert and plan on a fourth this summer.
I thought I was pretty hard-core for most of middle school and high school. As much as I try to kid myself, I still think of myself as a little emo, hardcore kid all wrapped in a little punk package. But I almost had my identity ripped away from me by people who felt their musical taste put them above me.
A boy I used to date despised Fall Out Boy. He incessantly made fun of the band and ripped apart their music because he could play a few instruments and had small amounts of musical knowledge. I eventually put away their CDs, wanting to keep the relationship. Even after that relationship disintegrated, I found myself surrounded by people who felt that bands such as Fall Out Boy were beneath them.
It wasn’t until my current relationship that I pulled back out all of that music. He and I share a lot of mutual interests in music, but are also wildly different. Instead of judging me for those differences, he sits and listens. I hadn’t really shared my music with anyone in a while.
I can’t really claim to be that out there with the artists and sounds I listen to. It’s all really mild stuff, like Lana Del Rey Death Cab for Cutie spinoffs. I don’t shove things down people’s throats or tell people their favorite artist is trash. I bite my tongue if I don’t agree because I know it only takes a few voices to make someone question everything.
After missing most of their shows, I finally went to see Panic! At the Disco with my current boyfriend, after years of not even bothering to look up show dates. I almost cried during my favorite songs thinking about what I had missed so many years. I finally got around to seeing Fall Out Boy again this summer with a fellow newspaper staffer, and I did cry.
The people who pointed out weak bass lines and silly pop riffs melted away. It was just me and the music that had stuck with me, even when it was on the back burner. But why did someone telling me my favorite band was a joke affect me so deeply?
Being pretentious about music is the exact opposite of what music is about. Music is meant to be shared and loved. Music is so emotional and so deeply connected to who a person is.
I am deeply connected to rock music. My parents were good to me and put Led Zeppelin on repeat instead of Top 40 stations, but that does not give me the right to shame anyone else who only knows “Stairway to Heaven.”
This should be an invitation to find a connection. Plus, Led Zeppelin was way before my time, so how can I even pretend to know the first thing about them. I want to share my musical tastes, not guard them like precious treasure.
It is common procedure to scoff at young girls at concerts who immediately put on their fresh concert tee and only know the new album or the band they are about to see. I want to challenge you to remember back when you were that age.
Fall Out Boy had already been album deep into their career before I found them. I didn’t know a few songs when I saw them the first time. Since I was 13, they have been one of the consistent parts of my life.
Those are the memories that flood me when I see a 13-year-old with only new Fall Out Boy gear. I think about how much that band meant to me when I was 13. I want everyone to stop and think about those memories before they scoff at someone.
I want those nights you sat depressed, or overjoyed with your favorite artist to be the first thing you think of when you want to write off someone’s music.
Your music tastes do not make you special. They make you a part of a community, a community that wants to share. And they can’t thrive if you stay saddled up on your high horse.