Eat the music

Over the weekend, I made a purchase from Amazon MP3 Downloads that I would have found unimaginable in the 1985 — Meeting in the Ladies Room by Klymaxx.

Back then, I was a seeeeeeeriously arty kid, and from my youthful perspective, the amateurish, frivolous lyrics of the album’s title track barely rose to any semblance of artistry. I had to be taught that was the point — "Meeting in the Ladies Room", the song, was not aspiring for anything lofty, and for something fun and silly, it’s really quite excellent.

I still remember the emblematic image from the video of Fenderella’s lopsided hair, which turned her into a cyclops. Her spoken word contributions had all of the attitude and little of the rhythm of hip-hop, but it still felt musical.

I’d hate to come down to the level of becoming a BW, a Basic Woman, but if they don’t stop it’s going to get scandalous. (Uh-ooooh!)

It’s all in the delivery.

Sometimes I’ll take a peek at music blogs not in my RSS readers, and I never get the sense that music writers really own (what could conceivably perceived as) their poor choices in listening. I’ve worked with people who bristle at the idea of listening to something as innocuous — or in their eyes, milquetoast — as Enya.

I wonder if that’s really healthy.

Back in late August 2007, I vowed to start losing weight, and six months later, I’ve shed about 30 pounds. (Thank you, yes, thank you. Bows, bows. Thank you.) Before then, my diet consisted of anything I can take out from a restaurant or zap in the microwave.

My doctor told me I could still eat what I liked to eat, but I had to eat less of it. I didn’t have to give up cookies, ice cream and pizza — I just couldn’t eat them all the time. Kind of a bummer but not so irrationally extreme as giving them up all together.

So I started to watch what I ate. I cut my portions, I paid attention to labels, and I cooked more. I had to start watching Good Eats for the actual content instead of the entertainment. I don’t think I’m eating much healthier than I did, but I am eating much smarter.

What does any of this diet stuff have to do with music?

Eating terms are often used to describe our relationship with music. We’re consumers, some with a voracious appetite for music but with very specific tastes. People with diverse tastes in music are not so rare as niche marketing would have us believe.

Sure, many folks will lean heavily toward a particular type, but it takes a particular effort to be insular. If anything, I wonder if such single-mindedness has an analogous affect on the psyche as eating too much of one thing has on the body.

Eating meat at the expense of vegetables won’t do favors for your arteries, and while eating vegetables at the expense of meat isn’t considered harmful, eggplant can’t quite substitute for steak where protein is concerned.

It’s the same with music. If heavy metal is the only thing you listen to, you’d be missing out on the freaked out things some modern composers do with amplified violins. And for modern composers who pay no attention to the popular music world, you’d miss out on the experiments of Björk or the lyricism of Eluvium.

A balanced musical diet doesn’t necessarily mean giving up taste. I can take in some Beethoven and Mozart now and then, but not after I’ve taken in a lot of Reich, Shostakovich and [insert name of composer with a Kronos Quartet commission]. I even have my allergies. Garage rock? That’s what you play when you can’t even fucking play punk.

Klymaxx’s Meeting in the Ladies Room is definitely dessert. Pop is often perceived that way, and it’s certainly marketed as such. I could claim some flimsy defense of being ironic, but let’s face it — I dig "The Men All Pause" and "Meeting in the Ladies Room". I was even humming "I Miss You" this morning.

And it fills me up the way a nice piece of chocolate does. I couldn’t listen to it as a main course.

It’s easy to think of rock music as meat, and classical music as fruits and vegetables. But that just plays into some imperialistic urge to perceive classical music as "good for you". For me, classical music is meat, and rock music is water.

I don’t know if I could survive an existence without rock music, while classical music adds a whole lot of taste. My vegetables? Jazz. That’s the music that always comes across as being "good for me".

That’s a lot of words to say something pretty simple — I bought an album recently I didn’t think I would buy a long time ago, and I think it’s good for me to have done so.

Klymaxx does not feed me the way NUMBER GIRL does, and they’re not supposed to.

Some hipsters might scoff at such an admission, but I say, let them consume their Pitchfork-approved source of nourishment.

It’s not entirely a matter of taste.