Sunday, 28 January 2007

"Facing the Music" published January 28

One of the great injustices in the world is that men control the music. How many of us have endured hours of Lou Reed at full tit, longing for just a track or two of James Taylor to take the edge off? But James never makes an appearance because when you’re in a relationship you may think you wear the pants, but it’s the bloke who wears the music.
It’s an unfortunate situation which the feminist movement failed to address while they were dealing with equal wages and the right to have abortions. But I wish they had somehow found the time.
My musical life has been cluttered unnecessarily with the albums of my men. From the first one’s penchant for Devo, Talking Heads and Ian Dury to the last one’s Beach Boys, Lou Reed and opera. In-between there was George Thorogood, Ry Cooder, Neil Young (surfer), Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave, Bowie and Dylan (not surfers).
Because when you meet a man somehow any musical knowledge or taste you may have is immediately dismissed as insignificant. It’s the last stronghold of male domination as he flicks through your collection sniggering and tisking at your Eurhythmics, your Carole King, your Seal, your James Taylor, your Jazz and Blues collections and your Bridget Jones soundtracks. He’ll pause thoughtfully at the Violent Femmes, but when he comes to Hootie and the Blowfish he let’s out one long sigh and offers to whip around to his flat for some proper music.
Of course there is one practical reasons for this. In our early years the boys owned the stereos. While we spent our disposable income on Lindaur, shoes, hair dye and books, he saved up for a proper stereo with an amplifier and things on it which said EQ and had little displays with lots of colours which show how loud the bass and the treble are. Cool if you’re a guy.
Later when the relationships became more serious, the music decision was left to the man because by the time we’re ready to move in with him, we’ve learned to choose our battles. And after we’ve trained him to put the undies in the washing basket, change the bed sheets and make a cup of tea, listening to a bit of Lou Reed just doesn’t seem like a battle you’ll win in a hurry.
These days our music collection has long ago been relegated to the bottom of the pile. So eager are our men to impress other men, that his collection is racked impressively from A to Z while your meagre leftovers from the days you had any musical independence are stacked down the bottom somewhere gathering dust and cat hair.
We’ve also been beaten into submission over who actually operates the stereo. Apparently they are so complicated that only a man with the knowledge of a NASA scientist could possibly know exactly how to make it work properly. All of us have had that agitated “What are you doing!” yelled at us as we’ve gingerly tried to insert a CD into the stereo. “Not like that, let me do it.” So even in the unlikely event we got to play our own music, we can’t use the stereo.
Which is wrong. What I fail to understand is our overwhelming willingness to submit to the dictatorial attitude towards our aural environment. We seem unable to put up an argument which supports the rights of our ears, and our finely tuned musical taste to listen to what we want to.
And so thousands of women can be found every day hiding out in the bath just so they can listen to Ella Fitzgerald on our 8- year-old daughter’s mini stereo or driving to work with Joni Mitchell on full blast. Others attempt to slip something on the stereo when they’re men are too drunk to notice or under the guise that it makes her more relaxed, hint, hint. (Barry White).
But help is on it’s way, and it’s called the iPod. Few women have not seen the irony in their stereo-obsessed men devoting just as much time and expertise to something so tiny that the word masculine just romps straight over it. Now our men dream of the day they can put their entire music collection onto that little darling and dominate it to bits with their little headphones on.
Meanwhile we get to drag out our antiquated CD’s and have a good old listen while he’s nodding away in his own awfully cute little world.
Thank you Apple.

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