Tonight on the radio I heard a DJ introduce a song I have been listening to for a few months but have never heard anywhere other than my own Spotify playlists by saying “and James Franco found this song and put it in a commercial,” and this just maddened me on so many levels. First of all, why is James Franco making commercials, but more importantly second, the song–“Sweater Weather” by The Neighbourhood–had suddenly lost it’s “you’ve probably never heard it” cool factor and its cultural caché was clearly depreciating at a rapid rate. It wasn’t “mine” anymore. I have lost so many good songs this way, songs I loved until everyone loved them, until ubiquitous radio airplay killed them for us all.
Why is it that I feel the need, like so many hipsters before me, to let people know that I knew a song before it was popular? Am I that insecure, that I truly can’t handle the idea that someone might think I like a song because it is popular? And then I realized, this isn’t really true–I’ve never been one to shy away from a bandwagon (see: my embarrassingly late-to-the-game obsession with “Call Me Maybe”).
But then I began to worry: how much do I let the music I listen to and like shape my identity ? Is there a part of me that feels the need to assert my tastes as a form of self-validation, as a proof that I am not “Losing My Edge,” a la James Murphy (as LCD Soundsystem)?
I hear everybody that you know is more relevant than everybody that I know.
But have you seen my records?
I am constantly fighting that voice inside me that wants to let music–or tastes, or interests in general–become a substitute for a real identity. This is the voice that tells me these are the things that make me cool or interesting or worthy of attention. They are not.
The way I can fight that is, ironically enough, by sharing. The Enneagram tells me I am an Enthusiast, which means I get really, really excited about things and can’t help but share them, freely and frequently. I enjoy finding new music I love, music that surprises me, that makes me dance, that makes me think, that makes me feel. I take joy in it. I enjoy sharing this music because I love it so much, and I believe other people will too. I want them to feel all those things that I feel, to feel them with me and to love them as much as I do so we can know and understand each other better in our shared experience. Music has this power.
It’s an active pursuit, this repositioning of music from “mine” to “ours.” It takes conscious effort. But when I think of it like this, it’s a way to celebrate the gifts of art and of community. And those are two of my favorite things. So the effort, I think, is worth it.
It is in this spirit that I feel comfortable sharing with you a few other songs I am currently loving, that may or may not be on your radar and that may or may not end up getting played on the radio, or on Girls, on in James Franco commercials. They make me happy. I hope you love them.
“San Francisco,” The Mowgli’s
“Switzerland,” The Last Bison