February 13, 2004
Musical Coupling

With Valentine's Day coming up, I've been thinking about my wife often (more than usual) this week, specifically the ways we complement each other. We have open minds, can appreciate each other's tastes, and enlarge our worldviews.

Musically, she's moved from merely putting up with the music I play to relishing some of my favorite bands like Wilco, early Guided By Voices, the Mountain Goats and Hang On The Box (her current favorite). Often a relationship is defined not only by by its similarities, though, but also by its differences. She still cringes when I play Deerhoof, the Boredoms, Melt Banana, Xiu Xiu and Daniel Johnston. I'd rather share what we love at home and load up on these in the car and at work, but part of me eternally hopes she'll come around on these, too, though by now it seems doubtful.

Posted by david on February 13, 2004

I know what you mean, David. When I first got together with my girlfriend, she really wasn't bothered about music and simply tolerated stuff that I'd play. I saw her as something of a blank canvas and now, three years on, she positively likes The Flaming Lips, The Delgados and The Coral amongst others - though, of course, there's plenty of stuff she doesn't like too. But, like you, I'm hopeful...

Posted by: Ben on February 13, 2004 09:03 AM

My husband will never like techno or remixes. I save those for my iPod. He's a expert on 60's & 70's hits, though -- and that's about all he likes -- while I can say I like something from most genres.

I finally had to admit defeat over the techno and find ways to listen to my favorites alone. At least we have enough other things in common to keep life fun -- and my daughter likes techno.

Posted by: Terry on February 13, 2004 11:27 AM

one of the things (among many) that first attracted me to my wife is that the only music she ever listened to seriously was jazz & blues. in the years since we've met, she's become a huge fan of neil finn, aimee mann, yo la tengo, paul westerberg, luna & the smiths through me and i've come to love the blues and become a huge fan of jazz through her. all in all, pretty fantastic stuff.

Posted by: rob on February 13, 2004 01:27 PM

I've been working very hard to convince my wife that Madonna is evil. She's been working even harder on threatening to go "Like a Virgin" on me. I've given up that battle. But I still love her.

Posted by: Jeff on February 13, 2004 04:30 PM

Personally, I think that you should never date outside of your musical genre. I think that the main character of High Fidelity (his name escapes me right now) said it best: "It's not what you're like, it's what you like."

And I think that's true. I think you do need to have the same interests for a relationship to work. And having the same taste in music is especially important for those of us who take our music seriously.

Anyway... What's wrong with Daniel Johnston? I could understand people not liking Melt Banana and Xiu Xiu because they're so noisy (Melt Banana is cool, but their songs all sound the same to me, and that gets boring after 15 minutes or so), but Daniel Johnston? He rules! Unless you've been playing the hi-fi studio-produced stuff. Daniel Johnston jumped the shark when he stopped going lo-fi. He seemed in his element there alone with his piano. Now, it seems like the people he works with in the studio try to cover up and polish the lo-fi charm he had and end up turning his songs into boring, generic rock.

Although "Casper" from the KIDS Soundtrack was a great song, and I loved "Funeral Girl" from Rejected Unknown. He still has his moments, but it looks like his work won't return to the overall quality of his early stuff.

And I just noticed that allmusic.com gave Songs of Pain only 2 stars. WRONG! That album deserves at least 4 stars! The songwriting on it is genius. And allmusic.com gave Fun a rating of 4 and a half stars, and marked it as recommended. I have to disagree with that, too. I'm sorry to say it, but that's too high.

Anyway, I've totally digressed. My point is that your wife should learn to appreciate Daniel Johnston because his songwriting and early lo-fi recording style are charming. He may be thought of as an "outsider artist" because of his schizophrenia, but he really does know how to write and play songs. (Unlike Wesley Willis. While I do have respect and admiration for him, I admit that he's more of a novelty than a serious artist of Daniel's caliber.)

I doubt your wife will like Xiu Xiu, though. Melt Banana has more of a chance, but not much more. And I haven't heard enough Deerhoof to gauge their accessibility. You have the most hope with Daniel Johnston.

My apologies for the excessive length of this post.

Posted by: _ on February 13, 2004 05:11 PM

i've gotten a few people to like xiu xiu by first playing "ten in the swear jar" for them. jamie (xiu xiu's singer/writer) might hate the ten in the swear jar recordings, but they're still great songs and i love them. kinda xiu xiu-lite, and i've turned people into xiu xiu fans that way.

Posted by: justin on February 13, 2004 07:41 PM

I know more music than my wife, but she always winds up making better calls than me in the record store. She likes Grandaddy and Hope Sandoval, and I like Grandaddy and The Boredoms. I also like that Benny Benassi song Satisfaction - which makes her worry that I might be secretly gay. I just like that giant sinewave sound, and she's like "Sinewave? All I hear is gay." So I save that for the train. I'm down with compromise.

Posted by: paulconrad on February 15, 2004 11:36 PM
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