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Music

The Music in Me

Introduction by Justin Cober-Lake -- I can name your personality in five notes. Or so says Rob Horning. He might be exaggerating, but our selection of music does say something about who we are. Or at least who we want you to think we are. In this series of essays, PopMatters music writers explore the ties between identity and music.

The Music in Me
[7-11 November 2005]

I can name your personality in five notes. Or so says Rob Horning. He might be exaggerating, but our selection of music does say something about who we are. Or at least who we want you to think we are. For those of us who get sucked into a vinyl world, the music can have help determine who it is we become. It pulls out of despair, brings us to our family, and helps us explore our fantasies. Sometimes it simply demands we grow facial hair.

In this series of essays, our PopMatters music writers explore the ties between identity and music. These fans cover several countries and continents, use music to conform and rebel, find peace in trangression and a home in honesty. The ways music plays on our self-conceptions vary considerably, and sometimes unpredicatably. One theme recurs throughout this articles: in developing and portraying an identity through music, we also set the groundwork for relationships with others. In some instances, shared musical interest enables friendships; in others, a difference in aesthetics can lead to conflict. As each of these stories play out, we recognize that we can't define ourselves without a consideration of our relationships and cultural contexts.

Horning pins down the system of signification involved in choosing music, exploring fashion and elitism while trying to understand the limitations of cultural product as identifier. Ben Rubenstein decides that a sharp command of pop music will win him respect and sex and discovers how to let go off his attempts to control his situation with arcane knowledge. Adrien Begrand's knowledge wasn't so much arcane as it was outside the norm, but subcultures can serve us in ways that little outside of shut doors and headphones can. David Marchese learned that when your core relationships -- like those with your parents -- start cracking apart, you need a way to escape, and sometimes that route not only takes you out of reality, but also brings you back into it with new life. On the other side, your parents might be doing fine, and you just have to distance yourself from them. Zeth Lundy gets transgressive before discovering the joys of music you can actually share. Finally Kenneth Yu takes himself -- and us -- outside the usual strictures of contemporary masculinity, using music to help him relate to his culture in a whole new way, with whole new hair.

The relationship between our music and our identies is never stable and always developing. Sometimes understanding our options can help us with our existential forays and exploring those issues can be rewarding. Other times we just need to talk about an important relationship, and if we pretend the music's the important component, it might make it a little easier.

Justin Cober-Lake

Each day this week we'll be publishing a new essay in this series, so watch this space.

Friday, 11 November 2005


Free at Last: The Christian and the Ladyboy
by Kenneth Yu

I would like to cruise, to make love in the backseat of a degraded nicotine-stained car. To me, cheap rough anonymous sex is incredibly alluring, sexual deviance and social transgression the sweetest of forbidden fruit.

>"My journey of self-discovery began and ended with peroxide." th peroxide."

[Read Essay]

Thursday, 10 November 2005


Instinct or: My Alleged Musical Taste
by Zeth Lundy

I didn't want to be branded as just another well-adjusted, normal kid in town; I wanted to be mysterious, vague, difficult to approach and hard to read.

>"I never wanted to be my father. His unending kindness and support were never enough for an uncomfortable teenager -- I don't think decreed sainthood would have made a difference." ndness and support were never enough for an uncomfortable teenager -- I don't think decreed sainthood would have made a difference."

[Read Essay]

Wednesday, 9 November 2005


Am I Experienced?
by David Marchese

I'm not sure whether he saved me or damned me, but I wouldn't be the man I am today if it weren't for Jimi Hendrix.

>"I was eight or nine years old when Night Court changed my life." rt changed my life."

[Read Essay]

Tuesday, 8 November 2005


Metal Thrashin' Mad: Confessions of a Recovering Headbanger
by Adrien Begrand

We were the few, the proud, the true. And each in our own individual way, not quite right in the head.

>"We were so starved for good metal concerts, we'd risk life and limb, not to mention our hearing, to see our beloved bands in person." d risk life and limb, not to mention our hearing, to see our beloved bands in person."

[Read Essay]

Monday, 7 November 2005


I Can Name that Personality in Five Notes
by Rob Horning

The thought that they might actually be gloating in their ignorance, and thriving on the way they are denaturing signs chills me to the bone. They flaunt their power of emptiness and slowly empty our world of meaning.

>"I was listening to 1960s French pop singer France Gall on my stereo, and I thought that if the people walking down the street could hear that, they might have a favorable impression of me." ce Gall on my stereo, and I thought that if the people walking down the street could hear that, they might have a favorable impression of me."

[Read Essay]


The Band and Me (Or, how I learned to stop worrying and love the Beard)
by Ben Rubenstein

This does not seem at all ridiculous to me, despite mounting evidence to the contrary.

>"I can remember the exact moment my life changed for the first time. Well, ok, that's probably not true, as a moyel had something to do with the initial life alteration, and, thankfully, I was not fully conscious at that moment, or I would've had something to say." for the first time. Well, ok, that's probably not true, as a moyel had something to do with the initial life alteration, and, thankfully, I was not fully conscious at that moment, or I would've had something to say."

[Read Essay]

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