Friday, 7 November 2008

Ask Tom #6

I saw, in your profile that you listen to "the good kind" of music. So I'd like to know, what is, according to you, the "good kind" of music ?
I mean, I have been taught, and I am deeply convince (is that word correct in english ?) that there is no good or bad music, there is only music you like or dislike. The matter isn't what you listen to but what you feel when you are listening to the music.
Thanks for paying attention to my question and sorry for the mistakes I must have done : my english is not as good as my french mother tongue.

Your English is great, have no fear. Hmmmm, I suppose Kierkegaard in his Philosophical Fragments argued that truth can only be subjective, which is essentially what we're talking about here; the absence of absolute truth (a generic good music) as opposed to a sincerely held personal belief that whatever you like is whatever you like, and it is therefore subjectively valued as good. This would seem to be the rational answer to your question. However, Kierkegaard was a lying bastard seeking only worldly fame, capable of saying anything if he thought it would make a headline. The philosophical equivalent of Madonna. He is also wrong. There is bad music, bad art of all forms, and the world would be a better place if I could personally choose what was made available to be consumed by the public, rather than putting our faith in the free market to allow the cream to rise to the top and the shit to sink to the bottom.

In pre-Glasnost Soviet Union, you could only buy the classics of Russian Literature. Not a Da Vinci Code to be found anywhere. And those classics sold in large numbers, because people wanted to read, and this was what was available. Now in the countries of the former Soviet Union it is possible to buy pretty much whatever old toss you want to read... Grisham? They got 'em. Chick lit? Coming out the wazoo. But strangely the total sales of books remains the same. Proving that if you give a human a choice, he or she will inevitably make the wrong decision. Human beings are lazy, 75 per cent water we take the route of least resistance, and it always leads down hill. So, to sum up.... is there a good music or a bad music? Nah, not really. Long as you listen, dance, laugh, cry, it could be Abba or Zappa. Just give Madonna a miss.



  1. while returning home from a Fleet Foxes gig this evening (immense, by the way)we were just wondering whether every American who makes good music votes Democrat. We decided they probably do.

  2. Talking about Madonna, she seriously needs to wear long sleeves, those arms are like skeletons bones with a wee bit loose skin and a few bumps here and there.:-S
    Good music = Tom McRae :-)

  3. Follow up question: Does good music cease to be good when it becomes extremely popular or will it never become popular because the average listener will only listen to easy to get music that has been filtered through the music industry giant's machine of conformity?

  4. Hello - nice to see you at the Cafe, did I give you the set list? Was it the usual list of lies? I think history proves that music can be both "good" and successful, the airwaves in the 60s and early 70s are testament to that. So somewhere beyond the Horse Head Nebula, there is a race of Aliens tapping into a previous generation's signals, who still think we have a pretty great culture, boy are they gonna be shocked. Maybe that would make a good film (and when I say good, I mean terrible but mildly funny - with Seth Rogan as a record store owner and Tracy Morgan as a stoner Alien come in search of Let it Bleed era Stones' music, sort of High Fidelity meets Superbad - tell me that's not a winner!) where was I? yes... also, in the information age there is no longer an average listener, just 7 billion unique ones. And Sarah Palin. So to sum up, good music can and does breakthrough, but not often. Paranoid Android was a smash hit! Constant repetition can dull our appreciation but that doesn't stop something being good. And if you're still despairing over popular culture's appeal to the lowest common denominator, then take comfort from the fact that "the music industry giant's machine of conformity" is almost dead. Hurrah.

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  6. I have just noticed that Tom has answer my question, anyway, thanks for the answer. Victoire !
    I was also wondering the same question as tallsarah and I see that it has been answered so what else could I add ?
    Oh yeah : Tom I'm sorry but I don't think I would be a good movie !

    Thanks again and keep music on folks ...

  7. It was my birthday on Sunday, and as a special treat to myself, I had my cd-alarm set to play "Draw down the stars". It played on repeat 4 times before I got out of bed. It was the best waking-up-experience ever. Thank you.

  8. RE: pre-Glasnost Soviet Union
    It would be a fascinating experiment, to flood the radio airwaves with Neil Finns and Michael Penns and Judee Sills to see if the mainstream’s taste rises to its level of exposure. I’m just theorizing here, but a brain accustomed to music loaded with layer and nuance and texture would perhaps be less accepting of what limps from the radio nowadays.

    (In Madonna’s defense, I believe her fifth album Erotica struggled towards ‘art;’ I might be alone with those feelings, but there you go.)

  9. Man, time flies and I forget to check responses! Thanks for the response and thanks for the set's my second now, I also snatched the one from the El Ray in 2004...I hope it's the beginning of a glorious collection. I think that's a great idea for a movie, I'm really enjoying the Superbad, Pineapple Express line of movies! Interesting, because my typical playlist usually includes mostly songs from the 60's, 70's, and then a whole lot of Tom I feel like I missed a great generation of music, at least live, since i was born at the tail end of 80 (my birthday is tomorrow 12/24). I'm also happy the ugly monster of the music industry is dying and I can buy a Radiohead albulm for $20 or for 5 cents, whichever I want. I brag to my co-workers that they have to pay $1500 to get 10 feet from their favorite artist and I only have to pay $15, although I would pay a lot more to see Tom live more often!! Cheers!


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