I wondered recently how I could have developed that certain weariness which has kept me from blogging for quite some time now. Plenty of work and health issues seemed an inappropriate excuse for my receding into a week-long intellectual standstill. Finally I realised that the obstacle is such: I am not convinced any more of the relevance of what I’ve got to say, and insecure as to which audience I intend to reach.
Blogs on the versatile topic of music exhibit an undeniable tendency to focus on their creators’ particular likes and dislikes. Their preferences form the basis of texts that reveal but the opinion of a writer on a certain band, concert or happening. Since all of us are characterised by a huge amount of preferences and antipathies, stating these is not exactly relevant and can – in the most extreme of all cases – equal the publishing of a book on eating roast potatoes.
This line of thought brought me to the concluding questions whether or not what I post into the eternal orbit of the world wide web is of interest or relevance to anyone, and how I can make it so. Reflecting on the articles I have posted for the last two years I realised that those writings read most often and appreciated by the highest number of readers incorporate political issues or a certain socio-critical background. In fact, the top five articles attracting the most readers in 2014 included “Classical Bolts and Metal Thunder” (on the intriguing correspondence of Heavy Metal and classical music), “Metal and Politics” (introducing the German club Conne Island, which strives for political youth culture) as well as “The Rise of American Censorship” (handling Dee Snider’s unique vindication of Heavy Metal lyrics).
Why on earth do we feel the need to raise the topic of Heavy Metal onto a near-conservative, intellectual level? Why do we think we need to make Metal comprehensible and attractive for those who feel repulsed by it? Why, in short, do we strive to convince the critical?
When Black Sabbath wore make-up and crosses and evoked witchery in 1970, the general public reacted with rejection, while the young generation with enthusiasm absorbed the appeal of the forbidden and new. In 1985, Dee Snider drafted an entire speech for the purpose of steamrollering a committee of worried parents devised by the Washington Wives. In 2016, there is no need to fight for Heavy Metal. Hard music is not anymore blamed spectacularly for massacres and other personal tragedies. Parents do not appear to feel any inclination to raid their kids’ rooms for satanic records or pictures of pentagrams, goats’ heads and topless beauties. The Parental Advisory label has become a mere shadow of the once so dire warnings, a sign we notice only marginally, if at all. The shock of four decades ago has passed. The 21st century human is so used to gore, splatter, sex and strong language that a little more of any of them makes no difference to his tough mind. In consequence, there has been no noticeable public struggle for the acceptance of Heavy Metal simply as a type of music that does not necessarily breed evil since Dimebag Abbott’s tragic demise in 2008, the following publication of William Grim’s spiteful obituary and the respective replies from the Metal world.
What, then, do we have to prove? Who do we need to convince that Heavy Metal is not a dangerous debaucher created by the ape-like, uneducated and filthy scum of society?
I argue that this struggle, if indeed we choose to argue our case at all, is a personal instead of a public fight. It is not the politicians, the schools or the priests we strive to convert – it is, first and foremost, those whom we love and about whose opinion we care.
Why, I wondered, do I publish posts in favour of Heavy Metal, arguing my case throughout the web? I do because I feel the urge to share. I want to give free reign to my thoughts and emotions, spread my knowledge, entertain, educate and amuse. I want to establish a certain contact to a circle of those who love the music I adore to help me question our beliefs, interests, prejudice, the flatness of contemporary desires, and re-establish a small amount of passion for music. The too-much-of-everything shaping the modern world – easy access to information and goods, liberal freedom, and relative tolerance for many preferences – renders music ever more something we simply like instead of needing it like the air we breathe. The contemporary consumer is superficial in a very passionless way, and the accumulated crap of roughly a decade of free online publishing has rendered the majority of readers and listeners unpretentious followers. It is astounding how many of those I asked for the music they preferred indeed replied: “Oh, I actually listen to everything…”, and how many still celebrate any new pop song that sounds very much like the previous hit.
Despite the majority’s alleged liking for everything, I have quite often experienced conversations that ran thus: “I listen to Heavy Metal.” – “You’re kidding! You like that stuff?” The reply blends awe with disbelief and, not seldom, disapproval. Strangely enough, most people manage to have a very distinct and utterly firm attitude towards Heavy Metal, even if they have never so much as listened to a single record. Like Jazz in the 1920s, Heavy Metal was condemned by the conservative elite not long after its supposed birth. It appears to be the last bastion of taboo music, and I want to know exactly why.
This is where YOU come into focus. For the task ahead, the challenge I have set to myself, I need your help. If I want to discover more about the secret fear of Heavy Metal and devise a clearer picture exceeding the limited scope of my personal experience, I need to find out how others respond to music. Who of you loves Heavy Metal? And who has, like me, suffered more or less from the refusal of others? Whose parents, friends or acquaintances have sniggered about a favourite song of yours? Do your experiences favour my hypothesis that Metal is rejected by most people for fear and worry?
If I want to keep this blog alive on a meaningful level, I depend on you sharing your thoughts with me. What is your opinion? What do your friends, partners, parents make of Heavy Metal? I’d also appreciate really much if those who utterly dislike Heavy Metal could do me the favour of explaining why exactly this is. I’d love to read your comments!
The last thought I want to add to this way too long and perhaps rather tiring cascade refers to a promise I made at the end of my previous post. I hinted I might write about females on- and offstage, yet after thoroughly skimming the web for opinions and struggling to make up my own I was forced to conclude that the topic in question is hopelessly outdated. Neither do I feel discriminated against as a woman in the Heavy Metal world, nor do I claim there should be more women onstage. The balance of male and female musicians and fans is simply irrelevant for the joy I gain from listening to what these bands produce. I therefore apologise for skirting a potentially relevant but mainly boring topic.
Let me know what you make of it. Cheers!