I had a really nice exchange with a book blogger this past week. She’s been kind enough to lend her support to both Reswyt and Nekhet, and it’s a genuine joy to talk to her; she’s all about books, and believes passionately in getting her voice heard by people looking for something new and different to read. “New” automatically applies to both of mine, and “different” does, apparently, too – but she got a little incensed when someone posted on her blog that she just ‘didn’t get’ Reswyt.
“Doesn’t that bother you?” she said. “I think it’s an amazing book. A genre-shattering book. And here’s someone I respect, who likes a lot of the same things I like, who just didn’t get into it.”
No, I told her, it really doesn’t. There’s art for everyone; that’s my mantra. I knock Nickelback a little1, but zillions of people love Nickelback; it’s the art for them. I’ve touched on this subject a little before, imploring people to go find the art that is for them and stop tearing down the art that isn’t; somebody likes it, and it’s the art for them, and you’re just burning cycles and wearing down your stomach lining trying to make people like the art that’s for you. My next question to her was: surely there’s something you don’t get that your friends do, something they rave about that you totally can’t see the point in.
“I’ll think about that,” she said2. “What about you?”
I have the White Stripes. And, to her horror3, I told her all about that.
I confess. I don’t get the White Stripes. I don’t get the intentionally godawful lo-fi recording; I don’t get the stripped-down ‘charm’ of a two-person band; I don’t get the basic (but not the GOOD kind of basic), repetitive song structure; I don’t get the supposedly deep and heartbreaking lyrical content. (And I’m someone who goes looking for deep and heartbreaking; I’ve ascribed deep-and-heartbreaking status to some songs that I later was forced to admit were no more than wading depth, and really, just kinda…moving…a little.) When Rolling Stone listed its greatest guitar songs EVAR, and fucking ‘Seven Nation Army’ got listed, I instantly began sputtering and fuming and listing off double-fistfuls of riff-driven songs vastly superior. When The Edge and Jimmy Page were announced as making a guitar tone/songwriting movie together, I was overjoyed…until I learned that Jack White would be the third participant, Ruprecht waving his trident about on Olympus in earnest imitation of Page’s Poseidon.
Hold that thought. The one forming in the back of your mind; your impassioned plea for sanity, your already-developing list of Songs To Play For People Who Don’t Get The White Stripes, the thick sheaf of impressive and artfully-written reviews that will place me in the decided minority of musical imbeciles, that will condemn me to sit here in my wrongness and be wrong. I don’t care; I don’t give a shit what you’ve got in your bag of tricks. I’ve listened to every White Stripes album, front to back; I’ve listened to Blunderbuss and all of Jack’s side-project bands, waiting, waiting for the moment that the light comes on, and in the end, I’ve decided that I’ve simply wasted hours of my life forcing myself with gritted teeth to desperately try and find joy and enlightenment in something that holds none for me.
Smarter people than I, people with more musicological awareness and greater depth of musical perception, tell me that I’m supposed to like the White Stripes. I’m sure my book-blogger friend went to town listing off Reswyt’s charms, too, and I’m sure they fell on deaf ears. That’s OK. In the great chain of being, there are things that aren’t for me, and if that’s true, I can’t fathom the universe in which something I create isn’t for someone else. It’s all in equilibrium and balance. I’m all right with the idea that I’m somebody’s Jack White; that’s fine.
Because if I’m not somebody’s Jack White, I might just become everybody’s Nickelback.
Oh, sorry. Did I say that out loud?
1 Who am I kidding? I bash Nickelback ALL THE FUCKING TIME.
2 What she eventually came up with, by the way, was ‘Say Yes to the Dress.’ I don’t even know what that is.
3 Maaaaaaybe not getting invited back onto this blog. Maybe.