Posts Tagged ‘t-shirts’

h1

Threesome: “I liked them better before.”

February 9, 2009

elitismdiagram600

So, if you are music geek to any degree, at some point you’ve found yourself saying (or at least thinking) some variation on “I liked them before they were cool.” (“I liked their first album better.” “I saw them play this little club.” The permutations are endless.)

I heard a recent Modest Mouse song the other day, and it made me think about how much more I liked their early stuff, and why that would be. So here’s an argument for why it’s not just musical elitism: The early stuff – the first music that you heard by a given artist – is what you chose. It’s the music that spoke to you, that resonated with you in some way that led you to pluck it from the sounds around it and hold it close to your heart. The later music, on the other hand, is presented to you. (“It’s the new album by X.”) It doesn’t have to elevate itself from the background noise in the same way that the first music that you heard by the artist did. So, while it’s great when you like a band more and more as they release new music, that’s unlikely to be the norm.

In defense of the elitism aspect, though, sometimes artists make conscious decisions to be more accessible, musically or lyrically. For example, in the Dresden Dolls‘ first EP, A is for Accident, the live version of “Coin-Operated Boy,” contains the line, “I can’t even fuck him in the ass.” It was later changed, in their debut self-titled album, to the considerably more radio-friendly “I can’t even take him in the bath.” It’s hard to fault them for this, and I still love the new version, but I do prefer the uncompromised former version.

If you do happen to be a die-hard musical elitist, who stops listening to bands entirely once they go mainstream, may I recommend the lovely Diesel Sweeties t-shirt or hoody pictured above? (rstevens has a bunch of other cool music geek shirts, if that one is a bit too abrasive for you).

MP3: Spoon – Small Stakes [from Kill the Moonlight, 2002]

MP3: Modest Mouse – Tiny Cities Made of Ashes [from The Moon & Antarctica, 2000]

MP3: Death Cab for Cutie – Amputations [from Something About Airplanes, 1998]