Friday, September 16, 2005

Pop goes the writer?

The Swedish site Junk Music says that I write in such a way that they hope I'll convert to pop. That really is a compliment. Aw shucks.

Does one have to 'convert', though? I LIKE pop music. I like Abba, please note in Sweden... I love The Beatles AND The Rolling Stones (yes, they're old, but so am I, kind of. If not as old as them...). I impressed one of our nephews recently when he spotted my R.E.M. album on the shelf. I love Paul Simon. I enjoy various amorphous contemporary groups that seem roughly interchangeable the way that Mozart, Brahms and Debussy probably seem roughly interchangeable to people who can tell every pop group apart. I also think there's a lot of crap around, but that's true in every field.

What I can't claim to do is write about it with any sense of authority, having not spent my life steeped in the stuff. Still, what can you do when your formative influences in those crucial early years are a straight choice between, on the one hand, Dana, the Bay City Rollers and Grease, or on the other hand, Schubert, Chopin and Mozart in the hands of the Amadeus Quartet, Daniel Barenboim and the youthful Krystian Zimerman?!? Frankly, my dears, it was no contest.

But I will never convert to pop because I refuse to go to pop concerts, and there's only one reason for that. It's not the music; it's the volume. It's SO LOUD. IT HURTS MY EARS. I do NOT want my ears to be hurt. I tried a as a teenager and don't want to repeat the experience. What turned me on to R.E.M. was a TV series called 'Unplugged' in which various groups performed without amplification. I stumbled on it, listened and thought 'wow, this is great music' (my boyfriend at the time was stunned to find I had reasonably trendy taste in pop after all...). I'm afraid I won't even go and hear my brother-in-law, who plays sometimes with Billy Bragg, whom I admire very much. And I wouldn't go to Beethoven either if I came out with my ears ringing, a violent headache and a sense of nauseous claustrophobia brought on by excessive loudness.