ROFL: Random Outbursts From Lar! LarryNocella.com

10Sep/09Off

Loving Music as Opposed to Stalking It

I never used to care much about pop songs being used in commercials. The band wrote the song, so if they wanted to use it to sell cars or toilet paper or booze, that was none of my business. But my heart's been broken lately so I'm reconsidering my hands-off approach.

This change was driven by a relationship that hit a rough patch, involving me and a song by The Chemical Brothers. In Galvanize, an electronic beat blends with Middle Eastern ululating, string instruments and hip-hop lyrics. It's a perfect example of the positive things that our shrinking world's meshing cultures and vanishing borders have to offer. The lyrics, too, are all about people coming together. Brilliant!

Imagine my horror when I saw my beloved tune playing soundtrack to Budweiser TV commercials over and over and over. Now when I hear this transcendent song, the expanding thoughts it triggers compete with the Budweiser beer logo. Ugh. (Video here.)

Another similar case: I was recently forced by the obligations of marriage to see the heinously unfunny movie, I Love You, Man. This film would have been more aptly titled Field Study of Douche Bags, but never mind the crap flick. What really hurt was that the two main characters had this annoying obsession with the band Rush.

So of course, there were several filler scenes of the douche duo characters showcasing their Rush-fandom via air instruments and whacky vocal noises as part of their bromance. Look at him frantically mime that drum solo! Haha! He got so into it, he fell over! That's really funny! He fell!

All I could think was, thank heavens I no longer listen to Rush with the devotion I once did. Because that movie would have absolutely killed a few of my favorite Rush tunes. Good memories associated with those songs would forever clash in my memory with insipid scenes of this crappy film.

The examples go on. Recently, The Black Eyed Peas wonderful song, I Gotta Feeling was promoting CBS' new shows. (Video.) I even seem to recall years ago that Jethro Tull's Locomotive Breath was used to promote car sales (who is the genius marketer who came up with that?) I'm sure everyone has their own example of a sell-out that broke their heart.

A sell-out? How judgmental! Who the hell are we?

Is it really fair to accuse musicians we like of "selling out" when they use their creations to make money? It is their work of art and it is their right to do what they want with it, even if we think they are defacing and cheapening something beautiful.

We don't own those songs. We simply love them. To think we own them because we love them, that's the mentality of a stalker.

One possible solution to this heartbreak is to turn off the offending media when your song is being besmirched, but as anyone who spends a few seconds in the USA knows, exposing yourself to culture means exposing yourself to ads. Kurt Vonnegut even felt they were one and the same. There is little to no escape from ads, even when you do make an effort to tune out.

We can't change the situation, so let's try a new attitude. Think of tunes not as your possessions, but as living things. You know that bit of needlepoint wisdom? If you love something set it free, if it doesn't come back that must mean you smell? I mean, if it doesn't come back it never was yours?

It's time to think of songs like that. Think of them like children, friends, family. Living things. Sometimes they make choices you don't like. Sometimes they go into sales instead of medicine, sometimes they work as strippers instead of teachers, sometimes they vote Republican instead of for their own interests. You're sad because they're not pursuing what you wanted, but that's when you need to remind yourself, you don’t own them, you simply love them.

One of the most touching moments of my life was when I asked my mother to proofread a letter to the local paper where I expressed my pro-choice views on abortion. Being generally of the opposite view, she took a deep breath after fixing each sentence for grammar alone, not content. She seemed to be steeling herself against the fact that her son was becoming his own man. In that moment, I felt a bit of freedom. It was a brief event, but huge in retrospect. Thanks, Mom!

So it must be with songs. I'll always love the Chemical Brothers' Galvanize. I won't always love the places it goes or who it hangs out with or what it does, but it will always have a home in my heart.

Thinking this way brings me peace, so I must be on the right track.

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Larry Nocella writes The Semi-True Adventures of Lar blog at LarryNocella.com. He's the author of the novel Where Did This Come From? The world's first CarbonFree(R) novel according to Carbonfund.org. The book is available on Amazon.com as a paperback and Kindle eBook. It is also available for other eBook readers.

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