Whenever I am getting to know anyone I always have to know what music they are into. It comes as no surprise then that most of my friendships are deeply rooted in shared musical tastes and memories. I’m automatically drawn to people that have the same music taste as me. It’s likely if your music taste is better than mine that I’m probably going to become a bit of a groupie. For real. For me, music is more than just a set of notes put together. Music is soul, passion, feeling, melody, harmony, and beauty. It is complexity. It is simplicity. It is its own. If you have a great taste in music I’ll probably fall in love with you a little bit.
One of my favourite songs from 2012 is ‘Bad Religion’ by Frank Ocean off his Grammy award winning Channel Orange album. Not only is it sonically perfect but it’s one of the rawest, most sincere, honest and well written songs that I listened to last year. ‘Bad Religion’ is a song about unrequited love. As Frank Ocean sings:
It’s a bad religion to be in love with someone who could never love you. Only a bad religion could have me feeling the way I do about you.’
When I’m not singing obnoxiously and horribly out of key into my clenched fist to it ’Bad religion’ tugs gently at my heart strings. I feel it. When I listen closely to it, trigger’s all sorts of emotional impulses. Listening to music is a uniquely personal experience. As listeners we relate to musicians in a way we rarely do with other types of artists. Hearing it in a car or while rocking headphones is even more intimate.
While I don’t consider myself to be particularly homophobic, if you had asked me before if I would ‘feel’ a song about a man falling in love with a man I probably would have said no. I would have argued that the song wouldn’t resonate because I’ve never fallen in love with a man. But even though I can’t relate to that aspect I love the song because I can feel Frank Ocean’s heart and soul pouring out in that song. The theme of unrequited love also resonates. We have all been there. The song, as all great art is supposed to do moves, inspires, resonates, and reverberates. Feeling it isn’t a political statement or an expression of my level of personal progression. I like it because I like it. Simple as that.
I hadn’t listened to ‘Bad Religion’ in a long time but my iTunes wasn’t having any of that and it shuffled it right back into my ears. Whilst listening to it I was again I found myself focusing on the use of ‘bad religion’ as a metaphor for unrequited love. As is the case with metaphors the religion being referred to here is obviously not the traditional religion i.e. Your Christianity, Buddhism, Muslim, Hinduism etc. Furthermore Frank Ocean calls unrequited love a bad religion. In the case of traditional religion, adherence to a specific religion often means other religions are regarded bad religions. Religion subsequently becomes a breeding ground for superiority complexes and snob conversations. This has more to do with differences dogma, principles, rules and regulations. What all religion has in common is that that is not the religion the person abides to is a bad religion. As I pondered this I found myself asking myself what is my ‘religion’?
Well for me, it’s music. Music is my religion. How does this work? I’m the kind of person who appreciates and loves a broad spectrum of music.My taste in music is eclectic. MGMT’s ‘Electric Feel’ is just as dope as any of the 1000’s of Hip Hop songs that make up most of my music library. Same with Rihanna’s ‘We Found Love’ or James Blake ‘The Wilhelm Scream’. I try not to discriminate because I’ll miss out on too much.
This doesn’t always translate into respecting other people’s views and means for listening. In situations where other people’s musical tastes are different to my own I tend to judge their tastes. I am not proud of it. I try not to judge but I can’t help it. It’s hard not to. For example I just don’t get people who are into heavy metal rock. You can’t tell me screaming and making a guitar screech incoherently is good music. Just because you have a bunch of tone deaf ignoramus’s listening and buying it doesn’t make it music … Ya Bish! It probably makes it trash. OK. That was harsh. I apologise. See what music made me do? Two people with vastly different tastes in the same thing can get along. Clearly.
So music is my religion. Clearly. It’s uplifting and encouraging. It can also can be as divisive as regular religion to me.
Anyway. May the record state that I never said anybody was wrong or right. Its religion, we will all find out when we’re dead.