Neil Young. Of all the artists I’ve covered of my own volition, I really can’t make up my mind whether I love or hate him. Young, along with Bowie, U2, The Police and others were my introduction to real music over 20 years ago and as I have preached before, they all came via greatest hits albums. The ability to pick and choose from greatest hits albums brings problems, namely someone like me can go nearly their entire life before discovering Neil Young isn’t exclusively a country artist. I know, I am ashamed if that helps. It got me to thinking about how our musical tastes change over the years too as nowadays I gladly listen to the rock side of Neil Young whereas before it just wasn’t for me. It made me wonder about other music I had abandoned in the past and what it is like returning to old genres you thought you had left behind.
I grew up with an ever changing taste in music. It starts in earnest with the like of U2, Bowie et al. Then I move into my teenage years and initially become a dance head. You didn’t really have a choice when your only socialising options were to head to teenage discos and hear the likes of Darude, Fragma and more. I do remember around that time I wouldn’t dare listen to any of that “old music” I had loved so much. I then started playing guitar and through secondary school I was a metal head. Again, membership in this club also for some reason meant I wasn’t allowed to listen to the classic rock I had loved, the dance music of my formative years and even within the metal and rock scene, punk was not allowed for example. A metal head listening to blink-182 would find themselves in a whole lot of trouble.
Of course there’s a whole different debate to be had here regarding how teenagers can be severe assholes and how the isolated pockets of society can sometimes relish in further isolating people within their circles, but that’s not what we’re here to talk about. As I have grown older I have returned to some of these artists and genres that I left behind. The difference between then and now is that my appreciation for music has become just that, music. Sure there are certain genres and artists I just can’t take to or flat out dislike, but in broad terms I have more recently tried to be more open minded. This is doubly relevant to me right now having come from Electric Picnic two weeks ago. There I took in all manner of music from a Beach Boys tribute act, to some primal scream level content in Body & Soul, some extremely hard rock courtesy of WOLFF to the glorious festival pop of Florence + The Machine. What’s the common denominator? I had a great time at each.
Dance music is what stands out the most when I look back at what music I left behind in my youth. The late nineties/early noughts brought some of the best floor fillers ever heard and at the time I was a major fan. I was never bought into the music though, really I just wanted to something to bop around to. Back then I was aware that these songs were fairly lacking in lyrical substance for the most part, or at least I thought, whereas the music I had listened to before had been all about the lyrics. As the years went on though and I moved into covers of songs like “Toca’s Miracle” and “She Wolf” I discovered an appreciation for that music I never had before. Sure, they still won’t be winning any awards for the lyrics, but it has really made me appreciate how much work goes into the creation of that genre of music.
Ultimately this is the reason why different genres of music exist, because there are billions of people on this rock, all of whom have different tastes. That’s not me trying to say “to each their own” and “all music is great in some way”. There are genres I truly cannot stand to listen to and certain artists who absolutely rub me up the wrong way. What I an appreciate though is that most of them are doing what they love and creating what they feel most passionate about. Most importantly, we should never feel a need to find ourselves locked into one genre just cos. Most importantly, we should never feel we can’t like a certain genre because it conflicts with what we tend to spend most of our time listening to. Worst case scenario, you find something new you might enjoy. Like a heavy rock Neil Young track or two