Some Initial Thoughts on Music
So music will be another topic I will write about on a regular basis. I listen to rap mostly, but I have much love for funk, some love for jazz, and I enjoying listening to most “rock”s. My favorite albums are Biggie’s Ready to Die and and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. But I don’t want just list my favorites right now, because then this “initial” post would be too definitive and slanted.
About two weeks ago I realized that at some point in the recent past, I had gotten so tired of listening to music through the generic iPod earbuds that I stopped listening to my iPod altogether. I thought that was sad, and identified with the bookworm man in the Twilight Zone who had a lifetime’s supply of books and all the time the world to read them, only to see the situation squandered by his glasses breaking on the pavement—the last thing he ever saw, no doubt, given the thickness of those lenses and the uniformity of the all-gray, rubbly landscape he maneuvered in. I decided to buy an actual pair of headphones, big cushy ones that hug my head from the top the way nature intended, the way it was when I was a boy listening to my blue and silver plastic CD player instead of talking to the other children at summer school. And, as if the nostalgia wasn’t enough (oh, but it was), they came equipped with a noise-cancelling switch so I can enjoy them on cross-country flights. I am listening to music so much now; here are a few thoughts of varying depth.
I don’t get the fuss over Lil’ Wayne or Drake.
The best club song/song to dance to: “Sexy Bitch” by David Guetta feat. Akon. I am a full supporter of the feminist (equalist?) cause, and I think a song that looks the institutionalized misogyny of rap straight in the eye and does its very best to wrestle with it is a song we can all get behind. Akon twice notes that he is trying to be respectful of her, indeed he recognizes that she is a stunning example of the beauty and uniqueness of the individual (“she’s nothing like a girl you’ve ever seen before”). The internal conflict between a), his desire to contribute to humankind’s collective memory an account of the sublime in the honest, everyday vernacular of someone in his profession and b), his desire to say respectful things to her, is what drives the song, yet Akon grows weary of it: “The way that booty movin’, I can’t take no more” (emphasis mine). He is clearly a man in crisis, at the end of his rope, lost in a morass on a plane much higher than ours, reacting the way any man would when tasked to reconcile two sides of himself that are suddenly diametrically opposed and mutually exclusive. Even though Akon slips up and calls the muse a “sexy bitch,” four times in each chorus, he gets an A for effort from someone who can only imagine the existential crisis he went through.
“The Cool” by Lupe Fiasco
Not at all nervous as he dug to the surface
Tarnished gold chain is what he loosened up the earth with
He used his mouth as a shovel to try and hollow it
And when he couldn’t dirt-spit, he swallowed it, working like a
except, his buried treasure was sunshine
so when some shined through a hole that he had drove
it reflected off the gold and almost made son blind
These lyrics are the best of a very good song, a third-person narrative about a dead gangster who one day regains consciousness in his coffin, escapes his grave, and finds death as unfulfilling as life. The song reminds me of Slick Rick’s classic “Children’s Story,” in which a young kid begins to rob people after some encouragement from his friend, then unwittingly tries to rob an undercover cop, which starts off a hectic sequence resulting in the kid’s demise. Both songs are stories with a clear theme attached to each one, likely the same theme, something like, “The gangster lifestyle of inner-city youth is not only a tragic waste of human potential but also a dismal way for any person to live.”
It is very late so I will leave it at that but I intend to elaborate on that last idea later.