March 13, 2008 | 11 Comments
They dropped the charges against that poor eighth-grade kid who was caught with a dollar bag of Skittles somewhere up in Connecticut. I’m not so sure that this is a good thing.
I used to eat Skittles by the pound, always saving the red and purple ones till last. My parents always warned me to drop the habit else my teeth would rot out. I didn’t listen and to the delight of my dentist and not surprisingly, they were right. I can’t eat Skittles as an entire meal anymore either. I outgrew them.
What else might your parents have been right about? They certainly warned you about your candy and if they were doing their duty, they educated you about your awful music, too. But they couldn’t have been right about that, could they? After all, your grandparents, and even their parents, said the same thing: modern music stinks. Because everybody is always saying it, you reason, it can’t be true.
Where did you get that idea?
Look at this picture. It shows a graph of music quality through time, sinking, slowly sinking, probably hitting bottom sometime in the next ten years or so. I’m at point number 4, which is the date I first heard myself echo my father when I shouted “Turn that crap down!”. My kids are at a point just off the graph, which I project is some time four to six years in the future, right before the apocalypse. My parents are at 3, the time when my blasting AC/DC on the Cougar’s eight-track machine pierced the old man’s eardrums. My grandparents came in at 2, despairing over their kid’s doo wop. Point 1 is too far back in the past for anybody to even remember.
By “music quality” I mean the obvious. You can also view this curve as something like the inverse probability that when you are in public you hear dreck pumped through speakers. This picture does not preclude that, at any time, top quality music can be found, because it obviously can be. However, the old rule that the lower the IQ the higher the volume is in force. If this graph is accurate, then I was right to switch off my kids music, and my parents were right to switch off mine. And so on. It turns out that what our ancestors were always telling us was true after all.
It is nearly impossible to go anywhere today and not hear bad music. A steady stream of simplistic sound surrounds us. Every mall, restaurant, retail store, bookstore, elevator, bar, park, beach, bench, office, subway, car, bus, every damn place and every damn occasion. I fairly long to go out to eat or for a drink and enjoy nothing but silence and the murmur of conversation!
Just as you can’t eat Skittles and nothing else without rotting your teeth, you cannot listen solely to juvenile music without rotting your mind. You will positively stunt your growth injecting empty calories into your belly or empty notes into your brain.
Now, it’s good pointing out to me that Song A or Song B were excellent and that I’m a fool for not acknowledging this. Despite the fact that conversations about the niceties of juvenile music often bear an eerie similarity to, and have all the intellectual content of, in-depth discussions over the indiscernible differences between Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi, I won’t disagree with you that Song A is just the thing. Sometimes. Occasionally. But not everyday and not every time you have to shop for toilet paper.
Please just shut it off.