Rhythm is a wanker

Think of the most provocative four-word sentence you can utter. You might assume it’s something like, ‘I’ve given you herpes,’ or ‘Slankets are the future!’ But try saying, ‘I don’t like music,’ on a regular basis, and see what happens.

Saying you don’t like music is akin to saying you don’t like breathing, or sex, or a nice cup of tea (I don’t like tea either, actually, but you’ll just have to deal with that one). Asking a person what kind of music they like comes third place after asking where they live and what they do in terms of universal ice-breakers.

Everybody likes music. Everybody has an answer to the question, which will then trigger an enthusiastic conversation, or a punch in the face. So when your answer is, ‘Well, I don’t, really,’ people gape in horror, as if you’ve started lactating through your tear ducts, or answered, ‘I love a bit of Razorlight.’

It’s hard to explain why I don’t like music, especially in 140 characters, which makes Twitter a bit of a hurdle. Everyone on there bloody loves the stuff. Coming out of their ears, it is. So I decided to write this blog. And the next time anyone asks, I can just post a link. I might be an unfeeling, music-hating robot, but at least I’m practical.

Anyway, the main problem I have with music, is that it clings to memories and emotions and just won’t let go. Smell is thought to be the most evocative of our senses – get a sudden blast of your nan’s favourite perfume, and you’ll go all dewy-eyed with memories. Suddenly, you’re 12 again, giddy with excitement because she’s whipped out her Charles and Diana commemorative sweetie tin. Although maybe that’s just me.

And music is, of course, incredibly evocative, too. Just a few bars of a song that’s soaked up some of your past can send twinges of nostalgia scuttling through your heart. But unlike the perfume your nan bought from Woolies in 1943 and eked out until the mid-90s, it’s everywhere. You can’t escape it. You don’t have to go to any effort to find it – it finds you.

And there’s the rub. Although I’ll happily listen to new music, I’m not particularly keen on having memories thrust in my face willy-nilly when I’m in a taxi or a shop or walking past someone’s house. It’s okay when it’s happy songs – although for a glass-half-empty kinda girl like me, these tend to be in the minority. And like most people, I’m all for a good wallow – putting on a playlist of songs that make me sad just for the hell of it when I’m in a reflective mood.

But what if I don’t want to feel sad? What if I’m in a lovely mood, and want to stay that way? Then what if suddenly, the opening notes of Meet Me Halfway by The Black Eyed Peas drift out of a window? Of course, many of you would argue that in this situation, most people’s mood would naturally come crashing to the ground.

But it’s even worse for me, because it drags me back to the moment I broke down in the shower after splitting with my ex. I wasn’t even aware it was playing at the time. But I am now, because every time I hear it, I’m right back there in the shower again, covered in soap and tears. Even now, months later, it’s played bloody everywhere, and I get to relive the moment again and again. Cheers, Fergie.

Other songs I could do without hearing include:

Parklife by Blur. Amazing album. But it was the soundtrack to a job I got as the world’s most gloomy 18-year-old (and there was some stiff competition), in order to buy some cherry-red DMs. I can tell you exactly which bit of the school playing field I was grumpily picking up litter from with my special litter-picky stick for each track of the album (Tracy Jacks was the tennis courts).

When The Going Gets Tough by Boyzone. I fell out with my best friend at a party to this song. If I could’ve picked something more epic and dignified, I would’ve.

An unidentified hip-hop song which features a particular ‘bing bong’ sound that, tragically, sounds a lot like the noise computers make when you hit the wrong key. It was in the charts when I had a job I loathed, and was played in the office on heavy rotation. If my current colleagues made more keystroke mistakes, I would have bludgeoned them to death by now.

All of The Beatles – too depressing to explain here, but you try avoiding every song ever written by them because they make you want to cry, and see how successful you are. It’s a tricky one.

Umbrella by Rhianna. No reason. It’s just shit.

People tell me that the reason I don’t like music is the same reason they love it – it brings back all these memories and they get to go all wistful, and start conversations with, ‘Oooh, remember when…’ And I agree, that’s lovely if you choose to take a trip down memory lane. But I’d like to have some kind of control over it. To be able to decide when I get these shocks of emotion that can darken my mood in a moment (and occasionally, admittedly, lighten it).

But I can’t. It’s everywhere, all the time, and I can’t switch it off. And that, Twitter, is why I don’t like music.

Next week: Why I hate puppies, sweet old ladies and cuddles


About bramblymouse

These words are mine.
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6 Responses to Rhythm is a wanker

  1. settingsun3 says:

    You totally got it! And music IS about time and place. In addition, it also does make you SMELL what you smelled when you first heard it. How does it do that? Anyway, me, I rarely listen to music anymore. Someone destroyed it, and I’m going to find those bastards and shove a Tuba up their arse. I’m serious. [ex Muso signs off..]

  2. bexando says:

    This is brilliant! I do love music in general but there’s definitely a fistful of songs out there that either make me want to howl with despair at the memory of times gone by or that make me want to punch the nearest pigeon in the head. I also hate that third question thing – why does no one ever start with something simpler like ‘what did you eat for breakfast this morning?’

  3. “Umbrella by Rhianna. No reason. It’s just shit.” – ha! That just made me snort the soup I was eating!

    You’re very right about music bringing up all these emotions that you’ve tried so hard to just bloody forget about, made even more difficult by everyone else liking the song you want to stab between the eyes (I’ll be the one sobbing in the corner of Lucky Voice during Rule The World). Try a bit of Passion Pit though, they’re good for actually forgetting where you are.

    Now I’ve read the title again, it’s blasted me back to a school disco in which I was the one who sat on a chair drenched in cherry panda pop. My glittered flares were ruined forever!

  4. Judy says:

    I definitely get what you mean – and it’s not just the songs that have memories, but I’ve started to notice that I really pay attention to certain lines of songs just as I’m feeling down/inspired/etc that ‘answer’ something I’ve been thinking. It’s creepy, like I’m in the Truman Show and someone is DJ-ing.

    I actually do love putting on a ‘Love Songs’ Spotify playlist and reminiscing though, even if it makes me cry. It’s only awkward when Colorblind by Counting Crows comes on and I’m in public.

  5. Cherry red DM’s. Eurgh I bought a pair too, steel toe caps to wear at school. I looked ridiculous, they were like clown shoes.
    Sodding fashions.

  6. p.s Rufus Wainwright – Memphis Skyline – reminds me of a break up with an ex. If it catches me on a bad day i’ll still breakdown, last time I was on a bus. Little embarrassing especially since I couldn’t give a toss about the boy, it’s just the emotions that it reminds me of.

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