The awkward social norms of music

So, I was never all that into music in high school.  I wanted to be.  I mean, I knew I was supposed to be.  I didn't like sports, and didn't really get along with the theater kids.  I was awkward and fringe-y.  So I knew I was supposed to be really into whatever bands made up the fringe music genre at the time.  I found out later that I probably should have been emo. But I didn't develop any real appreciation for music until after I graduated.  I mean, I liked music, but it didn't give me much of a visceral emotional response, and there was never really music I liked more than other music.

More than anything else, I had no idea how people found bands.  The idea of discovering a musician was alien to me.  There seemed to be this whole set of secret cultural rules:  You had to like certain bands if you were into a particular genre, and you had to know about, but not like, certain other bands.  You had to have a favorite song, but it couldn't be the one everyone knew.  You had to know the member's names.  You had to have opinions about at least one of the specific members' playing ability.

I didn't know how people did it.  I used to listen to the same album for weeks on end, absorbing every detail of the songs, and it seemed like these people must never do anything but listen to music.

The cultural norms surrounding music left me feeling locked out of my social groups, unable to relate.

The truth is, I never learned the answers to any of these questions.  I still don't really know how people discovered bands. I know I learn about them through Pandora, or bumping into a song I like and listening to it forty times, then looking for the album it's on.  I still feel sort of locked out of the conversation sometimes, but other times I find myself having real, sincere conversations about the bands, voicing my honest opinion about -- well, usually the songwriter.

The emotional response I get from music came more into focus later, when I started my philosophy major.  I started to understand what it was I wanted out of art, and since it wasn't the generic "I want it to make me feel good," I started to get more comfortable feeling the way I wanted to feel when I had a name to put to it.  I like, more than anything else, absurd music.  I like music that challenges the comfortable avenues of thought.  And by that I don't just mean sad music or complicated music.  I mean music that sets you up to expect one thing, then delivers another, or never delivers anything at all.  Music that messes with your idea of what music does.

Then, sometimes, I just want some simple, comfortable pop rock.  Something to move the metronome inside my head.

I still don't really understand music.  There's a lot about it that everyone else seems to get, that I don't.  Though I wonder, sometimes, whether they're just as in the dark as I am, and the only difference is that I care.

Eh, whatever.  I'm going to go listen to some Deerhoof.