Tag Archives: Taylor Swift

Controversial Opinion: Music Sucks!

In the audible diet of life, music is dessert. Sure you can live on dessert. There’s caloric value in it just like there are ideas in music, but the lean protein of information and experience is rarely there in the abundance needed for intellectual growth. The musical sugar toys with people’s mental glycogen to lift them up and down, addicting them. Maybe booze is a better analogy. How many people drink their coffee and listen to c-span or talk radio on their way to work, and then jam out to a brain-unplugging tune on their way to a post-work beer?

Never in the history of man have people had access to such an audible buffet. You could be reading The Sound and the Fury on your morning commute instead of listening to T-Swift shaking it off for the 37th time. And yet most people I know keep going to the chocolate fountain instead of the carvery. Your brain deserves better.

On a budget? Listen to podcasts. Ideally something that gives you counter-intuitive ways to look at the world. Comedians like Marc Maron and Pete Holmes have famous and interesting guests and have a habit of asking questions successful habits, beliefs about God, and the double-edge of relationships. You know what makes the Dos-Equis guy so interesting? Life experience. And you can be learning the pivotal life experiences of some of the world’s most interesting people while your pounding the treadmill to atone for last night’s Oreo’s.

Now, I like music. I listen to it while I write (Blues Traveler is playing right now), and I listen to it while I work out. Those are times I like to be a little raw and emotional and just let myself be manipulated by it. I love the way it controls the tone of movies and TV. Like sugar, the world would be bland without it. But it’s the opportunity cost of playing to our emotions instead of our minds that’s unsettling.

This thought came to me upon noticing a wild snapback in my mental dialogue in the car. I was listening to Slacker Radio (my first mistake), and “Colorblind” by Counting Crows came on. I found myself reminiscing on something I wrote once: “I thought we made minutes small to trick ourselves into thinking that life is long. But I think the real trick is that the minutia of time was built in cycles. Hours, days, weeks and seasons repeating in perpetuity so that the future always looks like a cul-de-sac instead of a dead end.” Only minutes later, “Semi-Charmed Life” by Third Eye Blind was on, and I was thinking about the time me and three high-school buddies jammed out on air instruments in a Toyota Corolla. With no one around, the memory had me smiling ear-to-ear.

I like going to both of those thought spaces. I just don’t like the concept of something external shoving me there, commandeering my personal mental agency. I’d rather maintain an even emotional keel while learning about the (possibly crackpot) ideas of Deepak Chopra on the “reality sandwich” of material, quantum, and virtual aspects of the universe. That stuff kills at cocktail parties.

One last thing about music. Here’s the first Google image of the artists that are in the top 5 at Billboard right now.

Teenage girls love pure sugar.


An Old-Fashioned, Diary-Style Blog Post

I’m supposed to write about my feelings today. My childhood dog died on Tuesday night. I processed it. I planned some deep-thought attempts about the value of presence and how the end of it is a harbinger of mortality that hollows us out, albeit temporarily.

I wasn’t ready. I sat down, turned on some tunes and started to type. The flow wasn’t there. Instead, this paragraph came out.

I just finished listening to a Taylor Swift song. Not by choice, mind you. It came on a thing called the radio. Not spotify or iTunes or whatever people who like music prefer these days. It was radio. An archaic form of music delivery that ignores your personal agency in regards to audio. But life is unscripted, so why shouldn’t our music be the same? I like radio. It’s natural. Call me analogue. I consider it a compliment.

It’s no Faulkner, granted, but there’s a nugget I liked. Life is unscripted. It has some merit. So let’s turn this into an old-fashioned, diary-style blog post.

In a 30-day period, I’ll have lost my dog, my girlfriend, and my roommates. I’m pretty sure the “telemarketer” I hit the ignore button on every week might be George Strait sourcing me for song ideas (I’d imagine it as some ode to the everyman drifter of 2013. Like a suburban “Amarillo by Morning” but with even less direction. “T-Shirt Blues” is a good title). And you know, I feel okay. I feel okay because life is unscripted.

I embraced the beauty of story a long time ago. And I don’t mean the usual BS about “life’s a journey” or anything like that. There’s one single element that is a writer’s most powerful tool. That tool is all the words he doesn’t write. It’s what’s not said that creates the bond between a writer’s words and a reader’s imagination.

Example: I can write, “Tommy wore dark skinny jeans with a pressed, white oxford tucked into them. A perfectly loosened Charvet slim knitted silk tie hung from the collar, and the sleeves of his grey Members Only jacket were slightly pushed up his forearms.” Or I can write, “Tommy always dressed like someone who was trying too hard.” [Editor’s note: no co-bloggers were actually insulted during the formation of this post]

Charvet Slim Knitted Silk Tie

In the first, you know exactly what Tommy’s wearing. In the second, he could be wearing anything. The answer is worth a little bit. The question is worth so much more. Every reader can put Tommy in different clothes. The possibilities are nearly endless. All of a sudden, the reader has created Tommy as much as I have. We’re building a world together, bonded in imagination. I call that place where we meet The Space Between, partially because it’s as ominous and open to interpretation as our imaginative union is, partially because I like that Dave Matthews song.

When I tell people that life is unscripted, they think it’s a “wanna see God laugh?” kind of advice. There’s a bit of that, sure, but it’s not really what I mean. I mean that what you don’t put on the script is usually the best stuff, the most powerful. It’s where you give your life a chance to connect with the rest of the machinations of this universe. It’s functional enlightenment, 21st century zen.

Signing off because I think George Strait is calling,
Dusty “Telemarkted” Riedesel