I used to hate a lot of bands when I was young, often for the most spurious of reasons. Nirvana and Pearl Jam had a bit of a feud going on? Well, I loved Nirvana, so of course I must hate Pearl Jam. Some of my friends hated Teenage Fanclub because they’d had to sit through them at a festival whilst waiting for other bands to come on? I must hate them too, even though this experience involved me in no way whatsoever. I even made a compilation tape titled ‘Babybird Must Die’, the only crime of this particular band being to have one big hit that became irritating through over exposure.
Of course, I didn’t really hate any of these bands, some of them I even secretly quite liked. I was just, like most teenagers, a little angry, a lot insecure, yet overconfident in my often stupid opinions. I am only glad the internet wasn’t around then to record them, although any stupid opinions I retain today may well outlive me. I’m not sure it’s even possible to truly hate a band, despite the legions of internet commenters doing their best to suggest otherwise.
Of course, my stated hatred of these bands caused no real harm. They were not likely to find out, nor care if they did. I tended not to express hatred of any bands my friends liked to their faces, either through politeness or cowardice, depending on which way you look at it, so it’s not like I was even upsetting any fans.
When I started writing reviews for a friends fanzine though, things changed. There was a chance, albeit small, that bands could end up reading what I had written. I felt a little bad whenever I wrote a negative review. Not bad enough to stop writing, and in fact my reviews would sometimes be more negative than my actual opinion, because a truly scathing review makes for a more entertaining read than a mildly negative one. I couldn’t escape the nagging feelings of doubt though. What was the point of all this? How would I feel if someone casually dismissed my work, some piece of art I had poured my whole self into?
Writing about music in the social media age has made this problem even worse. I was never one for writing negative reviews then tagging in the artist on Facebook or Twitter, any more than I would tell someone I hated their work if I met them in real life, but there was still always the thought they could end up reading it anyway. Eventually I just decided not to write about music I disliked. I didn’t enjoy doing it any case, and there is so much music I love, so much to be celebrated. The internet is not short of negativity in any case, if you hadn’t noticed.
Over the years I have been lucky enough to know a few musicians, and I even got the chance to interview a few for this blog .Without exception they were dedicated to making music through sheer love of music. Despite the fact they have little chance of making any money out of the enterprise, or even breaking even. Despite the fact that they have day jobs and families and all kinds of other commitments. Despite all this the desire to create almost always remained strong with them.
The joy music has bought to my life cannot be adequately measured. It has soundtracked the happiest moments of my life, and helped me through all the most difficult. I can’t imagine what life would be without it. So, every time I hear a song I love, I can’t help but love the person or people that created it too.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the tweet above from Scott Hutchison today, and the importance of letting those we love know we love them, not assuming it is known and letting it go unsaid. I’ve got better at this as I’ve got older, but still don’t do it often. Some part of me (the male part? the English part?) still finds it embarrassing or difficult to express my emotions, to look someone I care about in the eye and tell them so. The consequences of this inability have been minor for me, but can be devastating for others.
It’s important to let musicians know we love them too, even if sometimes that love just isn’t enough. So I just want to say this. If you’re out there making music, I love you. Whether or not I personally like your music, even though I don’t truly know you, I still love you. I love that you have bought to joy to millions, or thousands, or hundreds, or even just one person. Even in this internet age of almost infinite music, there can never be too much or even enough. So, please keep making music, and know that you are loved.