The Muso Who Said: No More! Or was it no, more…

(Alpha Girl walks into my bedroom, screams and says “What are you doing?!”

I immediately freeze mid-action. She wrinkles her face up like crumpled newspaper. “Were you…dancing?” she says.

“Um…no,” I say. “I was just…head banging…to…” Awkward silence. “Metallica’s new album on my iPod. They’ve done this dance/funk/metal crossover-type thing. Yeah, it’s all the rage.”

Alpha Girl, always the suspicious one, tilts her head to one side, eyes me intently and scans the room for incriminating evidence. “Metallica, eh?” she muses.

“Yeah…they’ve gotten really experimental, lately”, I lie.

Alpha Girl walks over, yanks the earbuds from my ears and places one near her own. She immediately guffaws. “I can’t believe you’re listening to Taylor Swift!”)

 

I have been a serious musician for about 25 years or so. I play guitar, drums, bass, keyboards and sing. I write my own music and have made seven albums. (And, yes, I’m a bit of a control freak when it comes to my music – so, sue me.) I have very broad musical tastes; I like metal, punk, jazz, pop, funk, rap, classical, and opera, to name a few styles. But in all my time as a serious muso, I have never, ever admitted to liking the music of Taylor Swift.

So what’s so bad about Taylor Swift, you say?

We so-called serious musos have an unwritten rule. We are not allowed to like rich, attractive, mainstream musicians (especially when they are squillionaires at some ridiculously young age). It’s just not the done thing. The reason for this is because most serious musicians tend to be poor, unattractive, alternative and poverty-stricken.

It’s called tall poppy syndrome, and we’ve all been guilty of it at some point or other. Musos are the worst. If we feel they didn’t do the hard yards like we did, they can’t possibly make good music.

But a few months back I actually got my hands on a copy of Taylor Swift’s album 1989. And because I’m an eclectic music listener, and tell anybody who will listen that I can find the good in almost any song (I can’t help it, I’m fair), I decided to give it a spin.

And I have to admit, I was pretty impressed.

Swift puts a lot of herself into her songs. (And yes, I know most of them were collaborative efforts, but that’s okay.) She sings self-deprecatingly about how she can’t keep a boyfriend, that people put her down for being who she is (Shake It Off), and that she’s a little left of centre field (Blank Space). She sings deeply and emotionally about relationship breakdown (Clean). And she writes some of the catchiest tunes you’ve ever heard (listen to Style and Bad Blood, if you don’t believe me). She presents as incredibly vulnerable and intimidating at the same time (must be her height and all that money). Swift is also a damn fine singer.

I love musicians who write personal and semi-autobiographical material. I’m guilty of it myself. It’s why I love John Lennon, Ed Sheeran, Birdy, Eminem, Jewel, John Mayer, Kate Miller-Heidke, Missy Higgins, Neil Young, Peter Gabriel, Regina Spector, Adele, Death Cab for Cutie, George Michael, to name a few.

I also love musos who tell stories in their songs, like Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Prince, Foo Fighters, U2, Duran Duran, Queen, Alice in Chains, Biffy Clyro, Dream Theater, Fall Out Boy, Hard-Fi, Harry Connick Jr, Jimmy Eat World, k.d. lang, Linkin Park, Rise Against. Like I said, I have broad musical tastes.

And I’m not afraid to admit I like Taylor Swift.

Great album, Ms Swift. You have yet another fan and more cash to add to your squillions. And from what I understand, you’re also really nice to your fans, so I can’t even criticise you about that. DOH!

 

(“You like Taylor Swift, Mr oh-so-serious punk metal muso,” teases Alpha Girl. “Where’s your street cred, now?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I say.)

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The Last Chocolate Cowboy

(I hand the box of chocolates around. Beta Max takes a moccachino caramel toffee with whipped orange mallow and dark chocolate swirls. Hmmm, I think. I really wanted that one.

Alpha Girl hesitates before choosing. “So why are you being so generous?” she says.

“I just wanted to share,” I reply. “Something wrong with that?”

Alpha Girl grabs five chocolates from the box, watches my eye twitch slightly. “These ones are your favourites, aren’t they?” she says, her eyes glinting malevolently. “I’m going to enjoy them so much…”)

 

Chocolate! I’m not a huge chocolate eater, but when I have some I like to take my time to enjoy it. Of course, I share with others because it’s the right thing to do. But deep down, there’s that niggling selfishness to keep it all to myself, so I can stuff my face silly.

I’m not the sort of person who hoards food. I’m more than happy to share anything I have with people around me, whether they’re horrible to me or not.

 

(“Hey!” says Alpha Girl. “Is that some veiled reference to me?”

“No,” I reply. “I don’t need to disguise anything I write about you.”)

 

Chocolate is one of those things that most people just can’t get enough of. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who doesn’t like it (hold on, I remember some crazy weirdo on a train once who didn’t, but I think their mind was on other things…)

Apparently it’s been around for about 3000 years or so and was used by the Aztecs. There’s nothing like a bit of chocolate after a busy day flaying people alive and cutting out their hearts.

I’m a dark chocolate lover; I like the bitterness mixed with the sweetness. Others prefer milk chocolate, white chocolate, blended chocolates – in fact there are so many types of boutique chocolates now, I’m not sure if they can be called chocolate any longer.

Apparently eating a little chocolate every day is good for your gut bacteria. I prefer that argument to the one about causing obesity. I’m not a fan of eating lots of chocolate (unlike my father, who enjoys his chocolate in bulk, and preferably in his stomach as soon as possible), but I guess there’s a time and a place for everything.

 

(“Man, I love chocolate,” says Beta Max, as he grabs another from the box and stuffs it unceremoniously into his mouth. “I could eat these all day.”

“As long as you leave some for me,” I say. The chocolates diminish along with my hope.)

 

Yeah, chocolate is mighty, fine stuff. But then I’m preaching to the converted, aren’t I?

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