Apart from my love of cookies, I think there’s something else you should know about me, dear readers of Nod Your Head:
I’m a romantic at heart.
Ask any of my friends, and any time I meet a new girl and things look promising, I swoon. This isn’t meant to frighten any potential girlfriends, because it’s not an obsessive doting, but rather just a dedication to the whole feeling of new romance. I am just one of those people who really likes being with someone. I blame being in a relationship for seven years. I blame that I was born under Saturn or whatever. But what I really blame is music. I blame pop songs for my overly mushy dedication to the ladies, for my heart strings being tugged so easily, and for my superpower to jump from 0 cuddlekins per hour to 60 cuddlekins per hour in . 5 seconds (cuddlekins being, of course, my fictional measurement of love).
So while Rob Gordon questions pop music’s correlation to misery, I fully know that every song I’ve ever heard has made me the sentimental sucker I am today. I’ve accepted it, appreciated it, almost grown to love it, in fact. But what got me really thinking is this: How far does that musical virus impact me? How has it rewritten the DNA of my heart (yes, I wrote that)? What has it done to my relationships? Does music play a part in the way I love? In essence, does a comparable and/or superior musical taste come off to me as some kind of glorious musk, throwing me into a state of heat and demanding my immediate infatuation with the well-versed lioness? Awful mental images aside, the answer has to be yes; thankfully, though, I am not alone. For some reason, music and a person’s taste are either an aphrodisiac or an immediate warning to run for the hills. Whether we like it or not, the sounds a future partner consumes do more for the relationship than hours of deep, emotional sharing could ever do. Plus, sharing feelings is lame.
Undoubtedly, there’s many of you out there who have achieved this point of understanding; I applaud you for your insight into the human condition and hope you enjoy being alone in your sanctimonious pit of despair. But there may be others who don’t give as much credence to our choices in pop culture as deciding factors in L-O-V-E; to you, I say pay attention while Papa Chris weaves you a sexy yarn. At its most very basic, music is an immediate picture of someone’s life. You’re out on a date, and this girl says she loves Slayer, Pantera, and other legends of thrash. From this microcosm of conversation, you could probably guess her views on dealing with emotions (in that they suck and everything is horrible), her partying habits (vodka and shotgunning beers), or even the kind of lover she could be (I’ll let you paint that picture). And the same goes for every other kind of music. If she loves Broadway musicals, she’s a classy broad, with a touch for the dramatic. She likes power-pop? Think immature and probably someone who wears skirts with Chuck Taylors. Yes, these are gross exaggerations and stereotypes pumped to their most absurd, but whether there’s a grain of truth to these or not, one can’t help associating certain worldviews and behavior types with certain genres. And that will surely have at least some impact on your overall opinion of their person. Whether you totally pegged that metal chick for an anti-social daddy’s girl with a drinking problem or not, you’re already thinking elephants.
In a less pseudo-science, bullshit-esque sort of way, music impacts our love lives because who the hell wants to live on Rolling Stones Island when you’re from Beatles-opolis? Whether we think that future mate is intelligent and funny and caring or not matters way more, but if you’re staring down the barrel of a long-term commitment to the girl of your dreams and your least favorite band, no amount of hugs and kisses will ever make you 100% certain. That’s not, however, to say that the whole music choice thing can’t be invalidated by love; I spent a chunk of my life happily hearing Christina Aguilera. But on the other hand, it sounds sort of blissful, on paper at least, when you’re looking toward days of bands you love and enjoy listening to. Having comparable music taste is like a sign from a higher power or like a really good match rating on eHarmony. Emotional, physical, and intellectual compatibility are really hard to decipher, but you know you’ve got something good when you both have a nearly-identical list of artists on your iPod.
If I had made this argument even 15 years ago, there’s a good chance that it could be more easily shot down, but now, thanks to the Internet, the camps of people have been clearly drawn, and there’s no arguing the fact that popular culture saturates and reigns over the lives of Generation Y. Our parents and grandparents had culture to bond over (not to mention wars and social movements), but ALL our generation has is culture and the things we consume. We’re without some global, unifying social movement or world event, instead left to be splintered by our beloved technology and generally (and comparably) easier lifestyles. It’s abundantly clear that dating someone outside of your musical taste is the modern day interracial marriage; sure, it’s not quite as deadly or groundbreaking, but how many people would guffaw at some modern-day punk chick marrying some button-downed broker? In fact, take a look at your own partner right now.
If our generation is so perfectly summarized by the culture we imbibe, can you say that you’ve chosen someone who doesn’t have a similar cultural makeup? Are you really that different in the sounds and sights that make up your personalities? If you are, bravo; you’re a better person than I. Chances are, though, that you’re different sides of the same cultural prism. This isn’t a condemnation in any regards; once more, there’s something soothing about being able to discern a mate from a smaller splinter group and to already know the kind of political beliefs, emotional openness and vulnerabilities, and other personality aspects to expect before word one. None of that would be possible without a few simple songs.