Commentary: I Hate Music

September 23, 2010
Filed under: Commentary 

SFFaudio Commentary

This post is off topic to our general subject. It was originally written in 2008, but was never posted because it was so off-topic. Sadly, it keeps having to be re-written as private emails. I have decided to save myself writing it over and over again.

Meta SFFaudioHow shall I put this? I might as well say I hate puppies and rainbows as say it. But it is the truth so I’ll just come right out and say it.

I hate music.

Can we still be friends? I’m being honest here.

For as long as I can remember I’ve hated music. I certainly didn’t always classify my feelings as hate. I had a mixture of emotions: Indifference, perplexity, boredom. Now I classify that entire block of feelings all as hate. Now hate is a pretty strong word. But I think it’s justifiable. See, it’s hate because music is a block in my path towards whatever isn’t music.

It isn’t that there isn’t any music I appreciate. There is, but I feel like I’m the world’s only homosexual living in a 100% heterosexual world. If it isn’t funny, isn’t literary, if it isn’t connected to some emotional or visual memory already in me, I just refuse to music. Music without those things honestly bores the shit out of me and always has. And I feel utterly alone in this. Apparently there is a psychological condition called, melophobia. It’s sufferers reportedly have symptoms of:

“breathlessness, excessive sweating, nausea, dry mouth, feeling sick, shaking, heart palpitations, inability to speak or think clearly, a fear of dying, becoming mad or losing control, a sensation of detachment from reality or a full blown anxiety attack.”

But I have none of those symptoms. I simply become annoyed and seek to turn off the offending noise. There isn’t a Wikipedia entry on melophobia, so it can’t be very common. Apparently Sigmund Freud had the same reaction to music. That’s one thing we have in common.

Everyone else seems to love or at least like music to some degree or other, and I really just don’t. It isn’t that I haven’t tried to like music. I have, I’ve tried over and over and over again. I even attempted to learn to play an instrument (a dismal failure). I tried listening to music – like all my friends did – but I never really connected with it the way almost everyone else seems to have. As a kid, when my peers were ooh-ing and aww-ing about the latest Michael Jackson song or carving “Def Leppard” into their desks, I’d be rebelling by reading books. I also discovered a few audio dramas as a kid.

I did listen to music. But it was never something I did with any zest. I’d listen to Weird Al Yankovic, Cream or The Beatles. I enjoyed the humor in Yankovic’s songs, his making fun of regular music, I loved the literary references in Cream songs and I loved everything about The Beatles. I connected with a few bands here and there, a few songs here or there, but my general disdain for music never felt at all normal. A couple friends of mine grew up to be professional musicians. One of them didn’t write lyrics (or when he did it wasn’t with enthusiasm). I hate his music. My other friend did write lyrics, and I can connect with his song lyrics. They have his sense of humor and his personality. Listening to his music is like spending time with him. It’s the personal connection in the lyrics – the shared experiences. But everyone I know, even people who don’t listen to music often – still claim to love music – as a kind of general thing. I never did.

In my youthful attempts to become “normal” I went to concerts.

Barenaked Ladies (middling funny music – but why watch them play it?)

Lenny Kravitz (utterly sucked – I’ll pay not to go again!)

Concerts all seemed more like a punishment than pleasure to me.

I have friends who are musicians, I have musicians in my family. I just don’t get the appeal of music.

One strange thing though, I’ve found I can connect with music that appears on screen. No problem there. I like Clannad from watching Robin Of Sherwood, and Vangelis from Blade Runner, and even the lyric-less Tangerine Dream from some of Michael Mann’s movies. Even classical music can work for me, Wagner from Apocalypse Now. But sitting down and listening to music? Guh.

I think the way I can best explain my relationship to music is by analogy. I see music as color in comic books. Its nice, it can enhance an image, but without the bold inks, without the story, and the word balloons it is an utter nothing. To get what I’m saying, think of yourself sitting around with your friends staring at colour chips – everyone else loves the colours, thinks they’re worth starting at for hours on end. Does that sound fun to you? That’s how it feels to me when I try to just listen to music – it’s an intellectual desert.

This is probably one of the reasons I’m so passionate about audiobooks.

Posted by Jesse Willis

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