It may be a reasonable sample to illustrate just how wide-ranging my tastes are. When I was younger, I'd say, "I grew up in a house with a dad who loved classical, original Broadway musicals (circa 1940s and 50s), and used to wake us up with Switched-On Bach at top volume. My mom was into country and church music. My brother was a punk rocker."
I mean, yeah - of course the elastic broke on whatever bag it was that should have contained my musical tastes.
But I think there's a lot more to it than that. I am intensely easy to bore. Always was. But ...
I'm also easy to interest, if the right odd thing comes along. I still recall the ease with which I could become utterly absorbed in staring down the pattern of the pebbles and mica flecks in the asphalt on the playground, when they had me playing the outfield in kickball. You can get a LOT of absorption-time in when you're not the popular kid, and just what falls in front of your eyeballs (when your eyeballs are perfect and young and can focus or defocus with alacrity).
There was a time in my life I spent almost entirely with musicians. I was still in college, but dating a TOWNIE (gasp - but then, an awful lot of the frat boys were entitled, molest-y jerks), and he was in a band. The music scene where we lived in the Midwest was pretty tight, and very talented, and it was a big interbreeding soup of interesting people I still miss and think of often.
But as dynamic a crowd as we were, we were predominantly white, and pretty much centered on a certain docket of Acceptable Music. Oh sure, they felt it was varied - and I did too, as far as I had forgotten my dalliances with the Dead and disco and the soundtrack from Breakin'. But I can recall the extreme prejudice with which, say, Beloved Ex regarded rap.
Rap and hip-hop (a term we really didn't know, honestly - rap was a blanket for an awful lot of Black music) were NOT music, he felt. All he/we saw was guys posing with their arms crossed. Maybe the unfortunate white-suburban perspective on Flava Flav. Scratching.
Scratching, and sampling, were just STEALING. That wasn't music - it certainly wasn't creation.
And this from a man who was a musician himself. His feeling sprung from a common theme amongst our friends - that "music" involves playing instruments.
Last night, I was struck (not for the first time) by the thought that ... not all instruments have strings, keys, or sticks ...
PBS has been running a series - as so often is the case, excellently researched and peopled, with one hell of a soundtrack - called Soundbreaking. For almost anyone who cares about where music comes from creatively and practically, how it is actually made, its history and impact and the impulses that lead to new music and the ones that come from hearing it, Soundbreaking is immensely, essentially, worthwhile. And I'm not big on the whole "you HAVE to read this/hear this/see this" as a rule.
Last night's episode centered on hip-hop and rap quite a lot, and I was reminded of my periodic obsessions with Rakim, or Tupac, or Nas - of the enjoyment I got as a kid out of Run DMC - of an awful lot of music that wasn't supposed to be interesting to me.
And I realize, one of the million reasons I have never quite been able to lay claim to being a punk, or a goth, or a classic rocker or any one subcultural or pop-cultural thing that strongly associates with any music is that there is no music I'd be happy LIMITING myself to. Sure, I'm not the only person in the world who LOVES combinations like Grandmaster Flash and Warren Zevon and Southern Culture on the Skids (I once dated a guy who was both a huge KISS fan and also Color Me Badd - at the turn of the Millennium, no less, talk about past the sell-by date). But I'm actively, constitutionally incapable of committing to any one music above all others, because I have this stupid fear it'll define me, or I'll lose everything else.
Blame my family for raising me not only eclectic, but literalist. Bastards! :)
So last night, some old white woman bounces around her bedroom thinking, good gravy I am so wrong for this particular bouncing, and just incapable of caring.
I'm like Michael Bolton (not. that. one.).
There is something important, to me, in not accepting the music I'm supposed to be into - not limiting myself to the role of bland, frankly-past-middle-age (I do *not* wish to live to be 100, so I'm not in any sort of middle anymore) suburban woman. And I think, right now, reaching beyond boundaries is perhaps the best thing any American can do.
Where do you cross the lines, or blur them? Where can you bleed out of expectations, and understand a perspective that's not supposed to be yours?
Watch Soundbreaking and realize - or remember - one or two of the places you push your own envelope, break the bubble your everyday life leaves you in.
And maybe get a heck of a laugh at the bit with Sean Puffy Combs. Because that is a cackle-worthy damn DISS, y'all.