The other day I was listening to music, except instead of really listening to it I was more thinking about what I’d tell people about the music I was listening to, what might be the right opinion concerning it and thus the one I’d share with others when later I’d go out of my way to bring it up in conversation, when the voice of what I have to assume was an incredibly drunk and entirely over it guardian angel, slurring and indignant, popped into my head and offered the following observation:
No one gives a shit, man, and they never will.
Now, as someone whose relationship to the music I enjoy is the closest thing I’ve ever found to what other people supposedly get out of religion, this came as a bit of a shock. Or, it did initially, I should say, because then I checked the videotape, and wow. The voice was right. Not only does no one give a shit what I have to say about music, but they never have, and I assume never will, and, what’s more, I’ve never given a shit about what they’ve had to say, either!
This situation has always mostly been the case, no one likes a know-it-all, but the steepness of the apathy has no doubt amplified in recent years with the complete cultural takeover of these space-aged walkie-talkie pocket computers that monitor our every movement and sometimes our speech and soon our thoughts though they don’t always or even most of the time work the way we want them to. We carry them with us everywhere, anyway, and have you ever considered why anyone with access to a large percentage of the entire existing universe of recorded music in their fucking pocket would give two shits what you have to say about anything?
Oh, you don’t like garage rock?
Well guess what, fuck-o, here’s a never-ending playlist, and not a fifth chord in any song! Check out this Phish song, and then also check out seven thousand more of them, on into forever, and let it be the only music you ever listen to again. What’s that, you say I should check out this new Drake tune? How about instead I only ever listen to classical music for the rest of my life?
I can do whatever I want now, we all can, and none of us have to give a shit what anybody else has to say about any of it. Look around at any transit hub or public square or mall or gym or wherever else people are gathered together in large numbers. Strangers don’t make eye contact unless it’s by accident, that’s a given, but with the proliferation of headphones and earbuds and those lame ear clips or whatever the crooks at Apple are calling those cheap pieces of shit hanging out of your ears that you think look cool and futuristic but most definitely do NOT, we aren’t even inhabiting the same sonic space anymore. Me and you could be best friends sitting next to each other on a bus, and I only have to hear the things you hear if I make the magnanimous gesture of turning off the thing I’m listening to, and enjoying, to listen to whatever it is you are recommending. Maybe I will, because we’re such good friends and I like hanging out with you, but also maybe I won’t, why would I do that, now that I don’t have to?
Stay in your lane, buddy, and I’ll stay in mine.
Because it’s not just information that’s flooding the marketplace nowadays, it’s art and music and television and movies and those cursed podcasts—distraction, in other words, and it’s everywhere, all the time. Ever been in the mood to find something new on Netflix? Good luck with that, I’ll talk to you after the next Presidential election, perhaps you’ll have found something by then. Spotify is worse, because if you’re not careful they’ll take the nine songs by three artists you particularly love right now and determine that’s the only thing you’ll ever want to listen to ever again—unless, that is, you’ve made the conscious decision to only listen to things on the service that are as different from one another as possible so your tastes don’t get pigeonholed. That can be tricky too, though, as you might have a a friend say, “Hey, check this out,” and then you’re stuck with the algorithm that will one day determine who lives and who dies (you know it’s coming) deciding you really fucking love xanax rap because you didn’t ask your friend first before innocently checking out those recommendations.
Please note, too, that the artists themselves really don’t give a fuck about your opinions.
In fact, they probably give the least fuck of anybody involved here. Artists make art, and bigger artists achieve their position through enough people liking them (unlike you, who does not) to validate their continued existence and artistic creation. And if you do like them, make sure you are very clear in that praise, lest the artists themselves (the more online the worse here, generally) become confused about what you are saying and marshal their more devoted fans accordingly.
For instance, this very website you are reading has spent literal years talking about how great Neko Case is, but last month an article that spent some time on the greatness of the record she released last year was retweeted by the lady herself with a “What the fuck is this?” quote tweet because she was confused about the article’s headline, instigating a twitter pile-on from some of her more rabid fans that was not just weird but also entirely incorrect. Had she taken like twenty seconds to click the link in question, she might have been like oh cool a woman wrote a nice thing about me that was nice, and instead of her being mad she could’ve been like this site said a nice thing about my record, please read it. But why would she do that, nobody else does, and she’s obviously busier than the average Internet reader so we’ll give her a pass for getting offended at a Neko Case fan writing a nice thing about Neko Case in an article that Neko Case didn’t read.
Are you fucking kidding me? https://t.co/YGZYtAhNp2
— Neko Case (@NekoCase) January 8, 2019
Now, please don’t misconstrue what I’m saying here.
There is not one single thing wrong with loving music, always being on the lookout for cool new shit, and wanting to talk to other music fans about the cool new shit you love. You absolutely should do that, it is one of the more fun things a human being can do. Finding music, listening to it, thinking about it and the way it makes you feel, and letting that feeling and interest guide new searches for other music that might lead to new thoughts and attitudes and states of mind within yourself: that’s the only relationship I’ve ever really had with the infinite spirit that connects us all, and it has in fact 100% no bullshit saved my life, more than a few times. What I am saying is that I spent years, decades really, trying to convince everyone I’ve ever known that the music I like is and was and will always remain the best music, and that they should like it, too. Whatever you were listening to and enjoying, if I knew you, I saw it as my job to tell you that no, sorry, you were wrong, your opinion was incorrect, you should instead listen to this other shit that I like, and learn to like it as much as I do.
If you’ve ever caught yourself thinking that same thing, please, on behalf of the rest of us, stop. Learn this simple truth shared with me by an intoxicated cherub nearly 36 years into what I’m beginning to have to admit has in too many ways maybe mostly been a wasted life:
No one cares. Not at all. Not even a little.
Do your thing. Have your fun. Cultivate a sophisticated (whatever that term means to you) personal taste in the music you love and enjoy the hell out of it. If you’re in a mood to share that love, by all means do so, as a writer on this very website, even, if you like what you see and want to do that sort of thing for good people who love music as much as you do.
But take it easy on the taste-making, and don’t take it too seriously. The rest of everybody out here couldn’t give less of a shit about your opinions, and we know you couldn’t care less about ours.
Feature Image Source: https://www.theverge.com/2017/4/11/15255994/apples-airpods-alien-first-click