On College & Classic Rock

I’ve gone through many musical phases: years of my life where I’ve been singularly obsessed with one artist or artists, a single genre.

In college – specifically sophomore year – that phase was classic rock. Fall semester I was really into The Who. If you asked me how I was feeling, I was often tempted to answer, “a little like a dyin’ clown with a streak of Rin Tin Tin.”

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“Men Are From Mars – Or At Least Your College Dorm Room”: On Tame Impala

Today we’re examining the phenomenon of Tame Impala – specifically, their song “The Less I Know The Better.” It’s basically your art student friend’s sound. Spare, electronic beat accompanied by a wavering male voice.

Lyrically, TLIKTB is written from the classic perspective of a man scorned. “Someone said they left together/I ran out the door to get her/She was holding hands with Trevor/Not the greatest feeling ever.” It’s all about college gossip, and trying to get with the girl you like. The whole tone of the song is desperation: “Oh my love, can’t you see yourself by my side/No surprise when you’re on his shoulder like every night.”

That extra “like” in this particular lyric is especially interesting. It emphasizes how much of an exaggerated perspective the narrator has for the whole situation. Yet it also feminizes his tone (like, y’know, like?) and aligns him more closely with the woman he dismisses.

There’s another contrast later in the song. Kevin Parker writes, “So goodbye” as if to cut this woman out of his life. However, almost immediately after this, this woman tells him to “wait 10 years, we’ll be together.” To which he responds, “Better late then never/just don’t make me wait forever.”

The push-pull of their relationship emphasizes its immaturity. He wants her, but when he can’t have her, it’s “so goodbye.” But when she tells him they’ll end up together, he’s all for it.

Who’s really in control here, then? Parker wants to be, by slut-shaming the girl for going out with this “Trevor” guy instead of him. Ultimately, though, the girl of the song is revealed to have power over him: 10 years, for Parker, doesn’t seem that long of a wait.

The Myth of the ‘Fake’ Female Fan

I went on a terrible date this summer. I probably should’ve realized it would be terrible: I wanted to walk around and engage in “get-to-know-you” conversation, he was more interested in finding a bar and getting schwasted.

Anyway, towards the middle of the date, the conversation drifted towards music – what we liked, what bands we were into. Now this was territory I was comfortable in. He brought up Nirvana, and I remember saying emphatically that I liked Nirvana a lot.

He looked at me like I’d sprouted two heads.

Now, I’m the type of girl that is as likely to carry a Michael Kors bag as bum around the house in a Jesus and Mary Chain t-shirt. At the time, though, I was in my Michael Kors-carrying uniform: I had the bag, my hair was straightened to within an inch of its life, and I was wearing a pretty short dress.

Would he have treated me differently if I had been wearing the Mary Chain shirt? Why should that matter?

Anwen Crawford wrote an excellent piece for The New Yorker recently where she proclaims, and rightly so, that “The World Needs Female Rock Critics.” The world needs them because of experiences like mine.

We are overrun with stories of the male relationship to music: you have your Inside Llewyn Davises, your Love and Mercys, your Nick Hornbys, your Rob Sheffields. (I love Rob’s writing, but you get my point.)

We need more women to stand up and talk about what music means to them. Female fans are both viciously intense and wonderfully passionate: they can take the tiniest detail of what they love about a song, a band, an artist and dissect it from every angle.That’s why I started this blog. I wanted to talk about how I relate to music, because, as Jimmy Page once said, “Music is the one thing that has been consistently there for me. It hasn’t let me down.”

Women out there: what has been your experience as a music fan? Were you ever viewed with skepticism by other music lovers because of your gender?

And men – you’re allowed to join us, but only if you play nice. 🙂