Thursday, December 27, 2012
Moving back to the theme of favourites, what is your favourite song? If you are like me, that changes over time and with your mood. There are many elements that go into the creating of a song, and in some it might be the melody that I like, in others the rhythm, and in yet others the lyrics. It might even be the way that a song is sung by a particular performer at a particular time. Others I may like because I associate them with a time or place that is important to me. My favourite song at a particular moment may be one that I have heard recently. So like so many questions, this simple question, “What is your favourite song?”, is not so simple after all. It touches on your very life history.
The song or songs that you nominate as your favourites may also reveal something about you as a person. The same could be said of anything that expresses what we call our “taste”. It may be a painting, a movie, a book. Our taste, the things that resonate most with us, reveal us precisely because of that resonance. We have the effrontery, sometimes, to talk about good and bad taste. There is a terrible snobbery in this, and even an element of cruelty. People are offended when they are told they have bad taste, or superficial taste, precisely because it reflects on them as a person. If I say that a person has bad taste I am asserting my superiority, my better judgement, my greater refinement – I am saying, “I am better than you”. It is a personal attack. We know that our likes and dislikes reflect our inner being. If I were to tell you the name of my favourite song, and you were to digitally sneer at me, I would be hurt.
Not all expressed differences in taste necessarily carry this sense of judgement. Sometimes we are prepared to acknowledge that a preference for opera, say, over jazz, while perhaps reflecting inner differences, implies no superiority of the one over the other. All too often, however, we are tempted to assert the superiority of our taste over yours, all as part of the deeply entrenched battle for top position that dominates so much of life. For this reason, then, we are often only inclined to reveal our true and innermost tastes to those with whom we have developed a close and trusting relationship. Otherwise, we will pretend to love the music we hate, and hate the music we love, to avoid losing face.
I have not told you my favourite song. And, in the light of the discussion, I withdraw the question. I don’t think we know each other quite well enough yet.
Maybe they'll remember me by Philip Newey. On sale now.