Most of you know that I went to the Pitchfork Music Festival about a week ago. Most of you know that all of my wildest dreams came true. I had a good time. I enjoyed myself.
But, fuck, that festival was exhausting. Besides the obvious physical factors like oppressive heat and standing all day and dehydrating myself so I wouldn't have to go pee and lose my place on the rail, Pitchfork was like the hipster Olympics, where every single event was just some sort of one-upmanship.
There’s tattoo one-upmanship, craft beer one-upmanship, who eats more free-range seitan one-upmanship, and -- the main event -- I’M A BIGGER FUCKING FAN THAN YOU.
A sub-event of I’M A BIGGER FUCKING FAN THAN YOU is just trying to name bands or albums your competition hasn’t heard of. There’s also “Who saw them in the smallest space?” which you can end by declaring “I saw the Beatles in my living room.”
I really wish I could just like what I like and give no fucks about “their” opinions, but I am STILL embarrassed about liking that Maroon 5 song. I’m also totally guilty of lying about liking music to impress people. It’s compulsive sometimes. I’m not as bad as those kids at Coachella (but maybe I am, I worry that could have been me), but I’ve uttered some pretty ridiculous half-truths to try and maintain some sort of “indie cred.”
I disgust myself.
The odd thing is that before I hit puberty, I was utterly and completely sure of my taste in music. I listened primarily to classic rock and would do bratty little things like tell older people what they were listening to in line at the grocery store. One particular scenario comes to mind:
Dude in his 40s: What IS this song? I know I know it.
Nine-year-old Claire: It’s Warren Zevon’s "Werewolves of London" off of Excitable Boy.
Somewhat startled dude in 40s: Oh. Thanks. Here, have a dime.
Shenanigans like that made me think that I was pretty awesome and that I was somehow superior to other pre-teens who couldn't name all of The Rolling Stones and their birthdays (Mick just turned 70 last Friday, for those interested). I was kind of a dick about it, too, and would tease my friends who liked N*Sync and what have you.
Then puberty hit and I realized that teenage boys weren't impressed when I would say things like, “It's a common misconception; a lot of people think Bob Dylan sings "Stuck in the Middle with You" but it’s actually Stealers Wheel, but you should know that if you've seen Reservoir Dogs.”
Panic struck and I quickly switched my dial from K-EARTH101 to KROQ and Star 9.87. (Ryan Seacrest was just a little baby DJ then.)
Things were fine. I liked Oasis and Third Eye Blind and all that other stuff, but I still listened to a lot of Stones and CSNY.
But there was this boy, we will call him “Taylor” (which is very close to his actual name because I sorta hope he reads this and figures out I’m talking about him).
Taylor was really cute, in that Jonathan Taylor Thomas almost-pretty sort of way, and I (and four of my closest friends) had a crush on him. And the little jerk knew it.
ANYWAY. Taylor is relevant to this post because of this one thing he used to do which I have never forgiven him or myself for.
We would be listening to music (I remember a particular time when we were listening to "Wonderwall"), and the dialogue would go a little something like this:
Taylor: I hate this song.
Claire’s inner-monologue: FUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK. I love this song, but if he finds out he’ll realize we aren't perfectly compatible and he’ll date Melissa because she’s much prettier than me anyway, better lie lie lie.
Claire’s mouth: Yeah, me, too.
Taylor: Just kidding, I really like this song.
I fell for this “joke” like three times. I would always be filled with the most intense self-loathing immediately after, because it was at least as much my fault as it was his. He was seeing exactly how far-reaching his influence was, and I was just trying to get him to make out with me while we listened to "Crash" (the only DMB song I have ever liked).
I would like to tell you that those experiences taught me a valuable lesson about just being myself, but nay. I continued to let my musical interests be influenced by people who I just wanted to touch my boobs. In retrospect, “Hey, do you want to touch my boobs?” probably would have been more effective.
So here’s a list of those people I wish I had just asked to touch my boobs and the bands I really tried to like for them:
- The above discussed Taylor and every band he liked.
- A dude whose actual name was “Cosimo,” which seems impossible now, but there it is. He was the biggest U2 fan and I borrowed Achtung Baby from him so I could listen to "One" over and over because that was the only song I liked on that CD. I realized actually pretty quickly that we would never work out, he thought that Bono was a better front-man than Mick Jagger and no amount of excellent make- out times would make that acceptable.
- A kid named Patrick and Fall Out Boy. Oof, this one is embarrassing. There’s not much more to say other than he was classically very good looking and had a lip ring and I listened to Fall Out Boy’s first CD for him a LOT before finally admitting to myself that I did not like this band. This admission occurred around the time he started dating a 17-year-old (he was 23, I think).
- Peter and Tool. I watched so many of those creepy music videos with him. We made out once, but I think that had more to do with us both being drunk than it had to do with me watching those terrifying videos.
- My husband and Tool. Fun fact: I met Sean at Coachella the year Tool was headlining. He was excited; I was pretending to be. I’m not sure if he saw right through me, but obviously everything worked out OK.
A few years later, I finally admitted out loud that I “don’t like Tool even a little bit” and I think he felt a little bit betrayed, but I didn’t find out he didn’t like Patsy Cline until AFTER THE WEDDING. So.
I, of course, asked the xoEditors if they did this, because I wanted to feel less alone.
"I haven't, but it reminds me of when my Dad wanted to be cool when Shania Twain was really big, and he referred to her really casually as 'Shay-knee-uh Train.'"
"I occasionally did this to impress cool girls I wanted to befriend. Pretty much never boys though. PRIORITIES."
"Like Lesley, to impress the cool girls, not the boys. When I was 11 and was just figuring out music, I asked my new cool friend April what music she listened to, she said, "alternative" (this was the early 90s) and I asked, "alternative to what?" I still didn't get it after we went back and forth a few times. But I went out and bought a Spin Doctors CD to impress her. She was not impressed."
"This applied to pretty much every band I ever "liked" in junior high. I was raised Southern Baptist and hadn't heard like any secular music but I pretended to like Skinny Puppy and Crass because my goth friends did."
"OMG, SKINNY PUPPY. I, too, dated a goth guy in his 20s who was a Skinny Puppy dude. I would say not telling him "This is the worst" was pretty close to pretending to like it for him as he played videos of them and, like, put on eyeliner and stuff. It was almost so the worst it became the best, if that makes any sense. Man, oh, man, Skinny Puppy."
"I didn't -- but when I was in sixth grade, the queen bee would have me make up band names for her so she could ask girls if they'd heard of them. When the girls, in a bid to please said bee, were like "SURE, OF COURSE" they were then mocked. Ah, to be young."
Corynne didn’t understand the question at first, but her response is my favorite:
"I kept reading this as "Did you ever pretend to like a BRAND to impress anyone" and I was like, well, I used to shop at BeBe because my friends -- sigh. I do not pretend to like music. I thought The Edge was a band."
I'm much more confident in my opinions/preferences now. It's probably partially due to the fact that I have no need to impress boys anymore, and partially due to age, but I still get a little panicky if someone asks me about a band I'm not familiar with.
Did any of you do this at all? Have you lost all respect for me? How do you STOP CARING what people think of you?