Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Trying Your Patience: A New Weekly Feature



At the end of the first paragraph of last Wednesday's post-election rant, I made a stale joke about this blog being a "pleasant distraction" long as I don't feature a number of artists and genres I happen to love. (You know, the ones that seem to get little or no love from readers.) I guess it really wasn't a joke because I have been thinking about it on and off for a few days and I really want to know why?

Why isn't jazz more popular here? Or reggae? Or heavy metal? Or electronica? 

I guess there's no real answer. If you don't dig reggae or jazz, you don't dig reggae or jazz. Life goes on. But I am sure there are elements of reggae, jazz and even hard rock and heavy metal in the music you do love, so the aversion to entire genres seems me.

I know heavy metal fans who hate The Beatles. I know Beatles fans who don't listen to anything but the Beatles. I know people who claim to love all music yet have no music of color in their rotation at all. No rap. No Latin. No blues. No reggae. No soul. None. I know a Stones fanatic who thinks "all blues sounds the same." ("Respectable," "When The Whip Comes Down," "Let Me Go," "Lies," "Where The Boys Go." You get the point.) There are E Street Band fans who don't care for Thin Lizzy, and vice versa. To my ears, it's six of one. Just a different country.

You could be a fan of Bruce Springsteen, an artist who just happens to be a fan of The Clash, The MC5 and Suicide and yet have no interest in any of those artists, and that is exactly what I am interested in, because as a fan, I want to hear what he hears. Then maybe I can appreciate something that doesn't immediately sound like "Born To Run" or "Darkness On The Edge Of Town." 

I had a discussion a few years back with an old friend who is a Grammy Award winning jazz musician. After years of developing a following by playing some of the best hard bop jazz I had ever heard, he began to abandon his bop setlists so that he could incorporate elements of trip hop & rap and crossover to a younger audience. I understood his motives and the need to see his fan base expand. But I also saw a different side. I suggested that younger people would be more apt to show up for the trip hop and stay for the hard bop, whereas the older jazz purists would not tolerate the trip hop or rap and simply stop showing up altogether. A 25 year old will listen to both Miles' "Kind Of Blue" and Public Enemy's "Fear Of A Black Planet." A 65 year old, will listen to "Kind Of Blue," but he won't be having none of that rap shit. He accepted my point of view, but ultimately didn't change a thing.

Even my boy Todd Rundgren has said, "My original audience is already dying! If they're my age, we've reached our life expectancy. So If you want to continue to make music, you have to find what that new audience is listening to. And if you lose a few people in the process, c'est la vie!" My first reaction was "Ah, take it on a hop, Todd!" But I've since cooled off because I get it. I just wish he wasn't always such a dick about things. And I wish he was a better rapper.

The real point here is, why is it a chore for so many to appreciate both "Kind Of Blue" and "Fear Of A Black Planet?" Or, "Born To Run" and "Western Stars?" Or folk and punk?

And why should age come into play? My father hated Led Zeppelin and any "long haired, hippie crap," even though he was almost a year younger than Jimmy Page when we saw LZ together. Why does Mountain's "Mississippi Queen" suddenly seem like racket to people who once loved it 30 years ago? Many of the people making the music that we avoid because it's too loud, too fast or too aggressive are often the same age or older than we are.

Why do Todd Rundgren fans, myself occasionally, or any fans of any artist for that matter, take offense at new direction? Would Elvis Costello's "The Delivery Man" be tolerated if Lucinda Williams put it out? How about "The River In Reverse?" Better if it was just an Allen Toussaint record? Costello's output in the last 30 years has been both daring and diverse, some records better than others, but no record to be ashamed of, and yet, so many fans dropped him like a hot potato after "Imperial Bedroom." Some, earlier than that. Yet, Neil Young churns out crap after crap like he's on a beans and sauerkraut diet, and he's untouchable. Don't misunderstand me. I love Neil. But I'd see right through your defense of "Greendale."

I just don't get it.

I decided I wanted to try your patience once a week---and no, this post doesn't count---by posting an album that I consider as wonderful and necessary as anything else in my collection. I can't make you listen, but since we are here to discuss music, I am hoping for something that resembles serious commentary, as opposed to something snarky like,"Good beat, you can dance to it" while listening to an ambient Eno piece. Or, "This was my wedding song" ~snort~ on a post featuring a hardcore punk act. (Both real comments, by the way.)

Listening to it all shouldn't be considered out of the ordinary. I do think playing it safe and sticking to your tried and true---a guy and a guitar, a verse and a chorus--isn't quite as adventurous, and it certainly doesn't offer as many opportunites to be wowed. But this is a personal feeling. There is no wrong or right.  I'm well aware that not everything speaks to everyone. But after so many jazz, reggae, metal, electronica, New Orleans brass band, hardcore, punk and ska posts where the only thing louder than the crickets was the silence, I felt like I wanted to address it. I think it will make great conversation and maybe we can all find some new old music to love.

Any comments of the "We like what we like" or "Who cares" ilk will be deleted, toot sweet. If that's how you feel, why are you still reading Burning Wood?

I do hope you all play along when the first episode of "Trying Your Patience" appears next week.



Keith35 said...

As you know my tastes are very diverse. I love Jazz, Classical and many genres of Rock. But there are genres I just have no interest in. Rap is a no go. However, interestingly I always disliked Bluegrass. Hated it; even Jerry's Bluegrass recordings. But after watching Ken Burns' Doc I decided to listen to "Will the Circle be Unbroken" that was laying on my shelf unlistened to (I think I got it from you). I enjoyed it. So even at 59; I guess there's room to expand my palate. I'm looking forward to "Trying Your Patience"

Anonymous said...

I'm down for this. I listen to many more kinds of music at age 55 than I did at 15 or 25. I love jazz, soul, country, blues, reggae -- but within all those genres there's stuff I like and stuff I don't. Same with rock, for that matter. For some reason (maybe the shortage of good jazz radio stations) I had never heard any Grant Green before your two postings here, but now I'm a big fan, and happy to give you the credit for that. And by the way, I just went back and looked at the comments on those posts, and they were all pretty positive, if maybe not as numerous as those on a Beatles or Stones post. So please keep trying to expand your readers' horizons!


ThroatWarblerMangrove said...

Great idea Sal! I’m looking forward to it! Maybe some Scott Henderson....

hpunch said...

I'm all for it. There are certain types of music that just don't grab me ( speed/ death metal. hip-hop, Andy Williams-esque schmaltz ) but I'm always ready to be proven wrong.

Anonymous said...

Frequent reader, rarely comment. I'm in. Combination of FOMO (I've never heard this; what other great sounds am I missing out on?) and a mis-application of hybrid vigour (more types of sounds inspire even more types of sounds). Can listening to barbershop quartets allow one to better appreciate the Beach Boys, Fleet Foxes, and David Hykes? Was last year's "Old Town Road" a troll of people who say "I like all kinds of music except country and rap"?


Sal Nunziato said...

For me, it was the Beach Boys that made me appreciate the close harmony of barbershop quartets, and even the saccharine sounds of the Four Freshmen. Nothing more than appreciation. I didn't go out and buy "Sweet Adeline" and 12 others, but man, some of those vocals are outstanding.

Anonymous said...

for the record, our wedding song was Def Lep's "Hysteria"

Anonymous said...

Sounds like an excellent idea! I listen to many different styles, partly because I get bored of any one style fairly quickly. When I'm working I prefer instrumental music (it's less distracting than music with vocals), so I listen to a lot of jazz, ska, African, and folk music.

For those that struggle with jazz, it's mostly about finding things that will get you started. If you like Jethro Tull, then you should listen to early Roland Kirk since Ian Anderson borrowed a ton of Kirk's flute-playing style, including the vocalizations, and they recorded Kirk's Serenade To A Cuckoo in a fairly close version.

If you like Ginger Baker, try his trio album Going Back Home which is perhaps my favorite electric jazz album. If you like that, try Monk's Dream since that is a killer Monk album and Ginger's include some Monk tunes. And that can lead you to something like Monty Alexander's Rastamonk Vibrations, which you can sample here:
This one makes me want to play some Professor Longhair right afterward!

- Paul in DK

Anonymous said...

Sal, I always love new ideas for posts so bring it on. Just quickly, I'm sure I would enjoy many genres and artists if I was able to spend more time with them. Unfortunately, my listening time is somewhat limited so if new music doesn't have an impact after a couple of listens, I move on. I realize that if I devoted a bit more time with them that I would probably reap the rewards but I usually choose to move on because, as I mentioned, I'm on a time crunch and i want to feel that great musical satisfaction "buzz" when I hear listen to something I love.


Shriner said...

(For the record, my wedding song was Alice Cooper's "You and Me" (and this was in 1989). No lie. Maybe 5% of my friends recognized it -- even after I told them what it was going to be -- and other than my dad, I don't think any of the old folks did...)

Sal Nunziato said...

For the record, the guy who claimed the hardcore song was his wedding song, was full of crap.

cmealha said...

Let’s do it. I’m in

Sal Nunziato said...

@Paul in DK,
Thx for the heads up on that Monty Alexander. This is new to me!

neal t said...

so I'm guessing not spinning the new live Greendale :)


I am an old man!

And of many regrets in life one is that I didn't listen to a wider range of music. Always "too cool" to play ____.

Today my listening is more wide ranging still there are huge gaps. It is no longer that "I'm too cool" but rather "I don't get it." I've been to the opera. I listen to jazz. My rap is way more likely to be all Rapper Delight rhymeee / samplee than current. Symphonic music is pleasant but you won't find me crying listening to Mozart or fighting over whether one should play Wagner.

I read an interview one time with John Peel. He said something like ... if he heard a record (that he knew the artist had put enormous energy in) and didn't like it he tried to ask himself what he was missing. Obviously John Peel was a better fan than I.

I'm looking forward to trying some new music.

Did I mention .. I'm an old man???!!!


While I'm at it ...

Someone on my Tweeter this week said something like "I never understood who the was the target audience for Joss Stone?" And I've been pissed since (not that I'd reply / get in a flaming thing). I like that first Joss record very much and find it exciting when a little teenage British girl (with a great voice) interprets classic soul.

Fuck you Twitter! :-)

(Okay, I gotta stop. Sal, please delete any further comments I offer on this topic.)

sclinchy said...

Bring it on, it will do us all some good.

Slidewell said...

Great idea, Sal!
I'm always psyched by cross-pollinations of styles, yielding something new. Most 'traditional' styles, where the rules are codified, don't do much for me. ie:, new traditionalist jazz, dyed in the wool bluegrass, most contemporary reggae...

heartsofstone said...

Seems like a great idea - especially now.

Ken D said...

Perfect title for the new project. I will certainly try "Trying."
And let's be on the lookout that it doesn't turn into a hostile back-and-forth on who "gets it" vs. who "isn't open to it." Fair enough?
There are bound to be more strikeouts than home runs with something like this but that doesn't mean it isn't worth doing.

Sal Nunziato said...

Way to stay positive, Ken D.

Zippy the Resolute said...

I only like things I already like, and more importantly, I'm only interested in the things I already like.
And I'm here to make that brave statement for same reason to you all!

I'll try that food, but don't expect me to like it (arms folded tightly)
I'll come to that party, but I'll make sure everyone knows on arrival that I do NOT expect to have fun or meet any new people I might like. I know all the people and points of view I'll ever need, darn it.

I've arrived here fresh like all of us on a ball of spinning rock in an infinite universe full of immeasurable possibilities created and discovered through countless millennia, with the equally infinite possibilities of combining rhythms and melodic elements BUT I've decided that at my age I simply (and proudly, mind you) do not wish to be open to anything I've not yet discovered.
No thank you, Sal!
I come here to this music blog as a reader specifically to explain to those of my fellow readers who look to discover things that might surprise them and open their ears to undiscovered gems that NO, I declare I am different, I am here to make sure I post as quickly as possible to shit on the possibility that I might like things I haven't heard yet.
You throw 'em up, and I'll just announce in advance that I'm ready to bat 'em down.
I mean, that's what we're all here for, right?
To make sure others on the internet are fully informed and aware in advance that we over here in the back corner aren't expecting to enjoy stuff, and don't make any mistake in thinking that people reading a music blog might be open to learning about undiscovered music, OK?
Can we just get back to rating Dylan albums? (PS I already disagree with you on number 4-17, just so you know...)

cjbennett said...

OK, so now I want to hear Public Enemy's Fear of a Black Planet. I like a lot of different music. Wide range of genres. My wife was complaining about a record I had on the other day (list was on random.) I said well, it's not everybody's thing, but this recording is over 100 years old. That's pretty amazing to be able to hear what people listened to that long ago. Every genre has great stuff. You just have to be able to find it. I have musician friends that will tell me to listen to an artist that I don't like (usually because I've already made my mind up...I know) They are usually right. Students have turned me on to music I would never have found. Good stuff.
Bring it on!

AK said...

Great post. Looking forward to what you put out, Sal. I for one am always actively in search of new artists/music. My approach is that I firmly believe my favorite song or musician is presently unknown to me... as yet to be discovered. And, yes, we all fall back on what we already love, but hearing something new that strikes you is an amazing feeling. It is a chemical reaction for me personally. Music is a drug.

Anonymous said...

Sal, it was Slidewell that turned me onto RastaMonk Vibrations. Great stuff.

- Paul in DK

Anonymous said...


This is an interesting proposition. I have a jumble of thoughts. Over the years, some of your recommendations have hit the mark we me; others not so much.

I think there's a difference between listening from a fan's perspective and then comparing that to the critical listener and/or someone like you who approaches music from a multitude of angles due to your experience/perspectives (fan/critic/collector/seller).

I'm 59 and pretty sure I cannot "listen to it all anymore." I try to keep up as best I can but there's much that I miss or that does not interest me. The genres I don't like, I tend to ignore unless something breaks through. I'm generally rock/jazz/blues and people with guitars most of the time.

Music for some people ends after high school because peak music listening/obsession is the teen years. When I discover artists I like, invariably that leads me to other artists that influenced the ones I like. Not everybody does that.

The time and money investment comes into play too I suppose. Jazz has a canon to get through and be aware of, as does classical, country, bluegrass, the blues, and early rock and roll. That can be a daunting undertaking. Some of it I just don't respond to or have interest in doing.

As for Neil Young, he is not coasting on his reputation like some artists, but he is trying the patience of his fanbase with his 'experiments.' You either go for it, or retreat back into the stuff that got you excited in the first place.

Lastly, isn't this is also a question of 'taste'? How do you acquire taste if you have no history/experience to fall back on, or do like to try new things? You have written about the importance of record company tastemakers before. I'm not sure if those people carry the same weight as before. With today's prevalence of social media and old media dying out, anyone can be an 'influencer' or die trying.

with COVID-19 and working from home, I find a lot of new music going through Bandcamp and/or reading blogs like yours (all music guide, etc).

- Michael D.

Anonymous said...

Great idea! Can't wait to hear what you post.

-- Regular lurker who enjoys just about everything

Sal Nunziato said...

Michael D.,
All very good points.

First, let me clear something up, since your comment about "listening to it all" was not the first that implied "all" as quantity. Also, this is not about "new" music.

Listening to it "all" is about genre. Nothing more. It can be only one single reggae record. Or one single heavy metal record. Not every reggae record. Not every metal record. Just have an open mind and listen to a Black Sabbath tune as oppose to just deleting it from a playlist.

I've also, shamelessly I might add, looked down, maybe unfairly, on "new" music. I decided that I can make the best of my time writing about all that I know versus pretending I have my finger of the pulse of the music scene.

Of course it's about "taste," which is why, twice, I mention that "there is no wrong or right." What I was hoping from this post and this new series, was to share what I love, hoping that those reading who might look down on metal or jazz, or reggae and punk, would be willing to give something a shot. I spent years avoiding the Grateful Dead for all the wrong reasons. It took a friend to lead me down a different path than "Casey Jones" and "Truckin'." I was willing and I was rewarded. I am now a fan.

Forgive me if any of this sounds arrogant. I don't mean it to be. I just love music. All of it. And I find it truly fascinating when someone cuts something down without listening. But also, unlike blogs that just post links to records so you can download something for free, I try to make a case for what I am sharing. When I say I love Black Sabbath, I really mean I love Black Sabbath and I could give you 100 reasons why if you allow me to.

Lastly, and this I guess is something of a spoiler, I listened to the first Damned record the other night. Sits comfortably in my Top 5 punk records and easily makes my Top 100 of all time. It was produced by Nick Lowe. I wonder how many Nick Lowe fans love the first Damned record. You know if you really listen to it, it sounds like Nick Lowe. Sort of a harder and faster version of "Jesus Of Cool." That's this series in one example.

Sal Nunziato said...

One more thing: when I said I “find it truly fascinating when someone cuts something down without listening,” what I really meant was “It drives me up a wall!”

Mr. Baez said...

Great idea Sal. It's good to keep an open ear to new and/or never before heard stuff. Looking forward to getting my patience tried.

Jeff in Denton TX said...

I'm looking forward to this, Sal. I like trying to expand my musical palette, so this looks good. Sometimes it's finding an artist I've missed in a genre I already like; sometimes it's being exposed to a genre with which I'm less familiar. Either way, I'm game.

Your previous playlists and posts have certainly steered me toward a number of artists I'd overlooked before or prompted me to dig deeper than the handful of radio hits by some performers. I admittedly prefer older artists and am more likely to 'discover' an someone that may be new to me, but whose catalog is at least 30 years old.

Michael Giltz said...

Hey, some people just keep listening to the stuff they dug as a teenager. What are you gonna do?

The opposite cliche is that music lovers begin with the popular music on the radio, dig a little deeper and as they get older start to tackle jazz and then when they "grow up," classical. Heck, I've got so much classical music to listen to before I even start to know what I don't know that it's daunting!

Maybe it's like learning a new language. It's a lot easier to absorb new musical styles when you're young and it gets harder as you get older. Just try learning Japanese after you've turned 50 and only ever spoke English. Kantande wanai!

You and a lot of your readers are the lucky few with open ears. Don't let the ones with closed ears bother you; pity them.

Heck there are a LOT of people who don't even really listen to music at all, people who never sit down and listen to an album or get moved by music or go to concerts and feel uplifted like nothing else can. A LOT. I feel sorry for them just as I do for people who never read a book (beyond the latest Jack Reacher) or enjoy live theater or painting and the like. I can also appreciate sporting events or hiking and camping and fishing or whatever, but give me the arts any day. To each their own, but thank god my own includes film and theater and books and music.

Crafted Nouns said...

Greetings from Blighty! Keep on testing our ears and yours! I've always said I'll listen to anything twice. Those who have ears to hear, let them hear!

Softshoebanana said...

I listen ( opposed to ' know what i mean) to many types of music, if you love it you love it..that's enough of a reason.
For some reason lately I feel myself being drawn towards Sun Ra and being honest that scares the shit out of me..where do I start?. I don't want to f**k it up and pick the wrong one or find myself not being able to grasp what's going on....problems problems problems.

Sal Nunziato said...

I fall into the Sun RaBBITHOLE every two years or so, usually kickstarted while listening to NRBQ, or most recently, the interview with Marshall Allen in Mojo. (Or was it Uncut?) I have it all digitally and a lot of it is "the wrong one." But I do always go back to the early, strange R&B and doo wop singles. That stuff blows my mind. Also "Space Is The Place" and "Atlantis" have found a place in my...neck.
Defintely a fun catalogue to wade through.

Skylord99 said...

I'm surprised at how musically narrow some of my friends are. They've stayed within a safety zone of a few mainstream artists most of their adult lives and rarely step outside those bounds. Me on the other hand have expanded my musical tastes across most genres to the point where it probably frightens my neighbors. I have a class A amp and some decent sized floor standing speakers so I tend to share the sound a bit. Last weekend I felt like a bit of Country Rock to start off with but after a few beers finished off with Alt Rock / Hard Rock played loudly. Depending on the mood, and that is key for me from a music selection perspective - I might listen to Jazz, Blues, Pop, and Industrial Rock / Heavy Metal in the same listening session. Other days it could be just a single artist that takes my fancy or I might play some of my mixes (which I'm starting to share on my Blog) so that I can have a cross-section of my collection just to see what I'm in the mood for.

Interestingly, I learnt something not too long ago about my listening habits that was quite a revelation to me. I was playing some Uriah Heep and my wife commented on how beautiful the lyrics of the song were. I had no idea what she was talking about. I was listening to the bass lines and the blending of the instruments and the voice harmonies but not the words. That explained why I can hardly sing many words of any song but I can point out instrumental highlights as well as tempo and key changes and hear things she doesn't. Until then - I didn't have a clue that for 50 plus years I've listened to music entirely differently to her and many of my friends and no doubt this is the same for many people.

I'm looking forward to seeing what you reveal as you test our patience Sal. I expect mine won't get tested too much as music is the journey that never ends but I do agree with some of the comments above - you either like something or you don't. Sometimes a second or third listen can change that as it's possible your mood wasn't right at the time to be receptive enough during the first listen.

buzzbabyjesus said...

Can't wait. Bring it on.

Anonymous said...

discovering new-to-me music has always been one of my favorite things about BW. And listening to music all day, every day, I tire at times of even my favorite artists/songs despite a playlist that spans from early jazz to present-day whatever so I'm eager to hear your "challenge" offerings.