When I’m introduced as Jay Jay French of Twisted Sister at parties or social events, the first question I’m asked is, “So what music are you listening to these days?”
The questioner is usually in the age range of 40-60. Before I answer, I usually ask, “Well, what do you listen to?”
The typical response is, “I’m still into 80’s metal.” I then ask, “Do you like current music, like hip hop?”
I usually receive one of the following responses:
“I hate Hip Hop; it’s all garbage and it all sounds the same.”
“I hate Rap; it’s not music, it all sounds the same.”
“I hate Pop; it’s nowhere near as good as when I was a kid.”
“I hate country, it all sounds the same.”
And so on and so forth.
I have been just as guilty over the years when I have been dismissive of jazz, jazz fusion, and classical music.
So, what really is the deal here?
The deal is simple; we have turned into our parents.
My dad thought everything after 1945 was terrible.
He summed up my entire love of the Beatles, Stones, and all the incredible groundbreaking music of the 60’s with this simple statement:
“After 1945 (why that year, I have no idea but I presume meaning after WWII) everything you (meaning me) listen to is just “baby, baby, baby, yeah, yeah, yeah.”
That simple, that easy. Case closed.
And that is exactly what has happened to my generation.
Now, hold on before you feel the need to instantly respond to this essay, saying that you have a much more sophisticated sense of taste and music, that you like some Rap or Hip Hop, Country or (fill in any genre), and that there are just two kinds of music (good or bad).
All are politically correct responses, and I’m sure that some of you really appreciate many, if not all, kinds of music.
The fact is really simple.
When one chooses to not care about the differences in the evolution of a particular musical genre, then one can simply dismiss the whole genre as “It all sounds the same” in one broad stroke.
Do all British invasion bands sound the same? Do all Motown acts sound the same? Do all San Francisco Haight Ashbury bands sound the same? Can you tell the difference between all Prog bands, all Midwest 70’s era arena rock bands, all Blues artists, all classical composers, etc.?
Of course not!
When you are passionate about anything, then it MATTERS to you to know and appreciate the differences.
Are there bad versions of the music that you love?
As subjective as that is, of course there are!
That’s why you listen to what you listen to and can criticize, with varying degrees of expertise, why you don’t like a certain version of a chosen genre.
I love the Blues, but not every blues artist.
I love metal bands, but not every metal band.
Some Beatles albums are better than others simply because I KNOW THEM!
In truth, most musical genres, within their geographical and chronological time frames, have some similarities. That’s because artists (and producers) that influence other artists take some of the successful sounds and copy them to sound commercially relevant to a particular audience.
Whether it’s an homage or a cynical attempt to jump on the bandwagon, the effect to a non-fan is the same, ergo: “It all sound the same.”
To an untrained ear, the following tunes (released in 1964), played in no particular order, will all sound the same:
“Ferry Cross the Mercy”
“I’m Telling You Now”
“Bad To Me”
“Till There was You”
“Needles & Pins”
“A World Without Love”
Yep, they all sound the same, except they don’t to me because I care enough to know the difference between Gerry & The Pacemakers, Freddy & The Dreamers, Billy J Kramer & the Dakotas, The Beatles, The Searchers, and Peter and Gordon.
Add to this the visual images of the artists. Once a look becomes “in” then it seems that all artists jump on that look, either because they want to or they are directed to by a manager or record label.
Whether it’s art, music, acting, etc., whatever is hot and the flavor of the month is copied, giving further ammunition to someone who wants to dismiss a whole group of music.
Don’t waste your time by telling me that The Grateful Dead don’t sound like the Airplane, or that Led Zeppelin doesn’t sound like Pink Floyd.
Because to my dad, it all sounded the same and it all sucked!
Please keep that in mind the next time someone asks you if you like a certain kind of music.
For me, I really don’t get Opera, Classical, or Jazz fusion.
The truth is, I just haven’t spent the time to listen and understand it enough, and even if I did, I may still not like it!
Keep this in mind the next time someone asks your opinion of a musical genre.
The politically correct way to answer, if you really hate a specific kind of music, is that you just haven’t had the time to appreciate the genre.
You can dismiss it all by saying:
“I hate (fill in the blank).”