The Perfect Listener (Pt. 2)

By: Nick Southall

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Posted 08/28/2006 - 12:13:40 PM by Zurich:
 I've been reading your Soulseeking column for a long time and these last 2 are finally prompting me to at tell you how much I enjoy your work. You're right about most of these things, as you expected about the cultural stockpile thing, and your sentiments have probably been felt by most of us "listeners" in the recent years of digital media and filesharing. That being said, it's still refreshing to read your work, especially these personal reflections, in a time when most are backlashing against creative approaches to criticism and music journalism. To see someone "getting" it is reassuring. Thanks.
Posted 08/28/2006 - 12:16:15 PM by syurix:
 What this article illuminates to me is why arguing about music is probably just as important as listening to it. The amount I've learned about myself as a listener by having to defend my dislike of Sufjan probably outweighs what I've learned raving in depth about "Return to the Sea" for instance. The discourse is both the damning and saving thing for any attempt to be an ideal listener. I've spun a fuck ton of records on the precept that I felt like I needed to have an opinion on them. I've also checked a lot of things out (the aforementioned Islands disc) simply because the popists' critical acclaim outweighed the high concept line on metacritic and convinced me to sit the fuck still and make an effort to enjoy something I wound up loving.
Posted 08/28/2006 - 03:24:18 PM by veltram:
 ditto, Zurich. you're stuff's priceless. keep it up. (sorry this isn't really a comment.)
Posted 08/28/2006 - 06:04:48 PM by keyinblack:
 Insightful. I find the whole idea of commodification of art due to capitalism pretty fascinating; how there are industries, polarizing values, and consumer customerization. Just a few thoughts on some of your points: (a) You hit the nail on the head on what I just call challenging music, and Return to Cookie Mountain was an excellent example. When I first heard it, I had absolutely no vantage point to interpret it so I just lazily shrugged it off as over-produced, but the complexity just kept drawing me back. (b) Although, numbers of listens seems relative, as I believe if you give anything a proper number of listens you can begin to like it (music in general is just far too fascinating not to find something interesting in anything, even if it doesn't resonate that long.) That's why I think the first 3 listens are crucial for a person's own will and intuitive desires; where would the challenge be of liking everything? (c) Not quite sure what you're getting at with the whole format fetishist's notion, I mean, you, as self-proclaimed budding audiophile, different formats have different sounds, vinyl is not compact disc is not mp3, I only wish more artists would use the different formats for different purposes. And I hardly know many people that complain or indulge in any particular format (outside of convenience.) (d) I also fall victim to buying "investments" (mostly with books, which I'd venture in the general scheme of things is the most popular next to DVDs) and it really is a pathetic phenomenon. Anyways, that's it, still, very insightful read.
Posted 09/01/2006 - 10:34:34 AM by cleric:
 I can't see how buying amounts of records is really wrong. First of all you may be supporting musicians who deserve it. And second i prefer to have more records to choose from than to be stuck with the same stuff over and over again. If you can choose between 5 books and a big library, which one would you choose? I'd choose the library for sure. I also disagree that music you have to put work into to actually enjoy it is supreme to "pop" music. I can only speak for myself. But i have no problem listening just as many times to a good mainstream pop tune as to the "rewarding" ones. In contrary, a good (and i mean really good) pop song can be much more worth than any of the not so accessible music, just because you can listen to it and enjoy it in more different situations, including an intense session at home alone.