You were sharing a good conversation with a new friend, over two cups of hot tea at a local hipster café, around two a.m. after a Star Slinger concert.
And inevitably the conversation led to tastes in music (well, in all truth it was you who led it there, but you’d rather forget that detail and avoid regretting it).
You were interested in your new friend’s tastes because he certainly shares taste with you in some areas, so maybe he does in others as well. As it turns out, he does! And this delighted you, but then of course your question was echoed back. And you didn’t have the forethought to expect this because you weren’t in the answering position.
Very plainly and very selfishly, you wanted nothing more than to get to know this person sitting across from you. You wouldn’t have liked the question yourself, but you had yet to identify with him enough to consider yourself in his shoes. At that point, you were still trying to explore shared territory and find grounds over which to identify….
That’s why it was an act of selfishness, because it demonstrates your inability to include into your realm of identification those who are not ostensibly like yourself, which is also your realm of care. That your standards for relatability are so scarce, and that you only seem to care about those with whom you relate, shows off just how petty you are.
But hey, don’t get hung up on that! Seriously, you’re beginning to give yourself the impression that you’re a depressed wreck.
And wouldn’t that be, like, a total bummer, heavy, dude, and like, totally depressing?
What they say must be true: “When a depressed person realizes he’s depressed, he isn’t happy about it.”
Anyway, back to taste in music. You’ll deal with that later on or repress it like usual.
So he asks you who your favorites are. And you go off for a minute about how hard a time you have at trying to condense all the music you love down into a neat, digestible list—and how hard it is to choose all-time favorites, or even recent favorites, when every song and album is a unique experience to you—and how you blah, blah, blah, other bullshit filler that’s probably true but you were really just stalling off making any committed decisions.
Then you go on for a few minutes about music that you remember really liking when you heard it because it was so new to you then and introduced you to so much and really expanded your mind and that maybe these artists would be better termed “influential on your taste in music” rather than “best examples of” your taste in music because etc., etc., and once more you unintentionally produced a clever way to avoid directly answering the question.
Thankfully, your new friend was compassionate and said he understood where you were coming from in everything you said. And you really appreciated being let off the hook, especially in spite of the fact that you were originally the one to cast the line.
But for your friend you did name two artists who sculpted your ears: Beethoven and Daft Punk. By saying “Beethoven” you were furtively dodging the need to admit you don’t know the names of the influential artists whose pieces drive Disney’s Fantasia, whether or not Beethoven is actually among them. And by saying “Daft Punk” you were trying to sum up your experience discovering electronic music.
Well, you didn’t have answers then. But,
You’re happy to be able to report that has changed! A band requiring the introduction “favorite” has finally occurred to you! You’re not sure how long this will last, but it’s true for now, and ‘for now’ is good enough for you for now. So! Your favorite band is … (drumroll:) Arcade Fire! And your favorite album is The Suburbs!
And yes, you do anticipate looking back on this fact in due time and lamenting the existential cliché that you are. But,
Everything about where you are these days—spiritually, emotionally, physically, mentally, intellectually—is keenly reflected in their music. You can’t ignore it and you don’t want to.
Arcade Fire is grim, austere, and even occasionally pessimistic. When you connect most with it, it summons apocalyptic visions of the present to your mind. You feel angry and called to action, and Arcade Fire carves out anthems of that disaffection! But simultaneously Arcade Fire bristles all over in hope and awe. Compassion covers the album like skies cover the universe in a starry, shimmering gauze.
To feel certain that the lovely fire of goodwill is still burning even in the hard rain of this world and even in the airless rooms of our hearts. To know that no matter how badly it burns us, we cannot put out this fire. To feel free to trust that no matter how well we cover our eyes, goodwill is giving light just as steadily….
The beauty of this belief as it is mournfully and swellingly told by Arcade Fire … resonates with you. And try not to forget that.
Next time somebody asks you about your favorite bands, at least you’ll have the option of replying with a decent attempt at candor.
Also, if you wanna get better about your depression, maybe you ought to start seeking some advice about it. Just a suggestion.
Also also, don’t you think listening to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata while you write about depression could be a touch too self-indulgent… ? Haha.