Last weekend I attended a rock festival, but before I went there I was asked by a very normal average middle-aged woman, why would I listen to that kind of music. To my surprise it was just the question I had been waiting for – I instantly exploded with a passionate and quite lengthy speech. I hadn’t even thought about it throughly before, I didn’t even doubt I might have definite opinion about it. Sure, I like to listen to it as much or more than many other styles, but I hadn’t spelt out the reason, why should anyone. Isn’t it violent and pagan and generally bad? The whole weekend while listening to these very different bands, none of them actually my primary favorites (many of them had me cheering and jumping for them anyway, partly because they were enjoyable apart from not having my maximum approval, partly because of the cold rain all of Saturday), I caught the idea into a tighter focus and I think I can formulate it more fully here for you.
Primary reason why I like rock and metal is because they are intelligent music. It may seem strange to people with only slight acquintance to them but I do experience them as such. Hard rock music is much more complicated, the feelings raised more primal and rare, the questions and answers more thought-provoking. When you have felt your way through the songs, you start thinking about things you never would think about otherwise. For me listening to pop music is like watching the world through simplifying and nicefying pink glasses – you don’t see the problems, you don’t see the whole picture – you see only the things which are enjoyable and nice to see and feel. Oh yes, it is nice to listen to (as I have said, it is difficult to find a style of music, that wouldn’t be enjoyable in some way or other), I don’t sneer at that at all. Simple and beautiful, so nice to dream about a perfect world… Quite in contrast, hard rock and metal raise issues most people try to shut out of their lives, you see all the problems and desperation all around you more clearly, you can see more of the whole suddenly. I don’t say popular music doesn’t, but when it does, it never goes as deep, never is so meaningful and – what is more important – the nice simplistic music and the overall tone shed the seriousness and woo people into thinking that they are profound and interesting now that they have listened and agreed and forgotten.
The music is the part that is primary source of satisfaction for most people. I like that music better because it is more complicated, more interesting to listen to. I am not a music expert and I am not good at describing music so this part of the explanation has to be left as simplistic as that. I know, some other styles are complex and enjoyable as well, but they tend to do just what popular music does – let us see the world as a much nicer place than it really is on the premise that when people feel nice when listening to a music, they like that music. I do like jazz and ambient and classical and ethno as styles I have found to be interesting and enjoyable music, but they don’t have the part I described earlier. They are enjoyable as the part of life and world that really is worth living for, though.
And there is a third part – I have never seen other music styles raise those primal wild forces and feelings in people. Rock and metal raise the age-old inner power in people, the almost-forgotten will to fight, the desire to do what is right, the unity, the wisdom, the understanding, the … While other music only raises more fun, more sex, more careless enjoyment, metal makes you want to stand up for yourself, for your country, for humankind, for the world, for … The feeling inside is raging, its more powerful and true than any you could feel listening to nice pop music with its simple tunes (that do stick to your mind too easily). Listening to pop music you could find yourself in love easily, that is a primal feeling, quite nicely so, but it is also more usual and simple, one not easily forgotten by anyone. You mate, you get a child, you live happily ever after – right? Newsflash! That is not what life is all about.
Three parts and I think I have covered all of why I love it. Oh, wait, not quite. I do like to party wild, I do like to forget myself in rock’n’roll-all-night-and-party-every-day and that is something many rock bands popularize as well. But in my mind that is quite similar to other styles and not really a reason to listen to just that style. That is similar to pop artists – anyone would like to party on forever, wouldn’t they? So let’s make a song with a catchy tune about something everybody loves and they will surely love us as well. They will even when it is not in the usual musical style for such thoughts, because then you could enjoy it in your familiar style. Not everybody is as many-faceted as me when it comes to enjoying different music.
Now about some wrong reasons to listen to harder music.
Many people enjoy depression. Freaky, but yeah, depression is kind of enjoyable. Been there, done that – don’t want it back. And this music is depressing if you let it be so. Don’t. Depression ruins you. You should see and react to depressing things, but you shouldn’t react by feeling down yourself – you should react by thinking, “That’s the way world is, it’s good to have a clear picture of it so I can think of what to do about it.” I know, some people can’t stand up to it, are weak in face of these things. I say – toughen yourself up gradually. You need it to live anyway. Me, I don’t even see that music as depressing anymore (several people have remarked on that recently, that is how I have noticed the change).
Many people think they are tough guys because they listen to that kind of music. Yea, right, I’m so impressed. They are childish, playing games with their toy-skulls and -swords, showing off and going off the scale of interest for me. I think they are stupid and boring, just as stupid and boring as the drunks in front of shops in small towns/villages.
And a disclaimer: Not all metal bands are good and interesting and thought-provoking; many bands are actually difficult to understand at all and many don’t make it across. This is the same in every style.