Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Open letter to Ben Steele


Your readers and I may not always* enjoy the music you feature on I Can’t Believe It’s Not Better! and/or on your podcasts (though I’ve really gotta hand it to you for your diehard passion).

And I enjoy ribbing you for your near-incessant sales job on all things even remotely related to the New Pornographers (“Hey, this album was produced by the guy who ran sound for their ’99 tour! I’m totally buying it!”)

But while you and I disagree on some music, our tastes actually overlap quite a bit. (Though you consume so much music it’s honestly a little disconcerting. I worry for your health—and your baby daughter’s feeding schedule.)

But back to the point.

Years ago you gave me a few tracks by the Oranges Band. I’d never heard of them and really wasn’t that interested at the time. The songs hibernated untouched on my iPod for years. But last year you posted their song “OK Apartment” and I woke up. As a result, I purchased their album The World And Everything In It and I must say it’s become one of my favorite albums.

You’ve also expended a fair amount of energy raving about the Hold Steady. I've had a few songs of theirs but again, never really got into them. Perhaps I railed against the hype. Perhaps it’s their “all-American” instrumentation (I don’t listen to a lot of bands with the same elements as the E Street Band). Either way, I got over it. Boys And Girls In America is pure gold. And (hold onto your socks) the lyrics… my God but that guy can write.

It almost hurts to admit it, but I guess what I’m trying to say is, dammit, you were right. And thank you.

Just don’t expect me to come around on Destroyer, ‘cause it ain’t happening.

Your friend,

* Or even occasionally.

(Strangely, I wrote this last night, prior to seeing today's ICBINB! post.)


Ben said...

Here I'd steeled myself for a music-related invective and... Well imagine my surprise.

I was actually just thinking that I should probably go back into the vault and pick a few old songs. To be honest, there's been a pretty big dry spell on new stuff I really like - other than Cut Copy.

But actually, your Open Letter reminds me of a blog post I started and never finished (a common theme since Eleanor's arrival). It actually stemmed from a conversation we had last December. We were talking about music consumption styles and how I rotate new music in while still trying to hear semi-new stuff enough to have an actual opinion about it (long, daily runs seems to be the secret ingredient).

I thought a lot about that conversation when I spent a couple of weeks in Palm Springs in March. I'd brought my trusty iPod Shuffle for run, but neglected to bring the cord to load new music onto it. As a result, I was stuck with one album for the whole time we were there (Destoyer's newest, which I know you love).

It was the first time in years that I'd listened to one album over and over without any competing alternatives. It was an interesting experience and made me think about how I consume music.

Maybe I'll finish that blog post. It's bound to be shorter than this "comment."

And you're welcome.

Ben said...

Maybe we should just do this via email next time.