Live music and dating: Embrace your partner's tastes
Not a photo of the author
Photo by Erik Hess
Being in a relationship is as much a cultural journey as it is an emotional, intellectual, or sexual one. Mostly because you have to "do" things with your significant other, and when you live in a city, a lot of the time "doing" means going to the movies or catching a gig.
Because let's face it: If you don't do actual "stuff" together you're probably nothing more than two aimless, high-functioning alcoholics that only stand apart from the other masses of horny drunks who populate bars on any given night because you know who you're going home with after that sixth whiskey shot.
Because you're most definitely not going to find someone with the exact same taste in everything as you (we are all special snowflakes, etc.), you have to be prepared to be open-minded about embracing the passions of your significant other, partly as a bartering tool for them to embrace yours, partly because it's a nice thing to do, but mostly because you want to spend time with this other person (considering they are "significant") and share important experiences with them. Like, for instance, going to see their two favorite bands gig together in their college town. That's what we proverbially refer to as a "bonding experience."
When my boyfriend asked me to go to a Hold Steady/Deer Tick show with him in Boston this spring, I said yes, and thereby made the tacit agreement that I would spend the preceding two months getting into both bands. When saddled with this obligation, I reasoned that surely, because I like him and everything about him, it should naturally follow that his tastes would suit my sensibilities. I chose him, he chose the Hold Steady, ergo, I chose the Hold Steady. It turns out this brilliant philosophical chain of causality is exactly correct in this case. Ergo I am a brilliant philosopher.
I'd always been aware of the Hold Steady, but ever really into them, the way, say, I'm into the early works of Usher Raymond IV. Whereas I can sing you 8701 from "U Remind Me" to "R U the One" without skipping a beat, when it comes to the Hold Steady I'm more likely to say things like, "Oh this sounds like it could be the Hold Steady" when something that sounds vaguely like them comes on at a bar, in an attempt to make myself look cooler than I obviously am. When I'm told the song playing is not, in fact by the Hold Steady, I then go on to pretend I knew that all along, and I was struggling to hear over the din of other patrons. Like, how dare everyone at this bar hamper my ability to identify music. Fuckers.
The first Hold Steady album I listened to was Boys and Girls in America, so the first Hold Steady song I actually listened to with intention was "Stuck Between Stations." I should take this opportunity to advise you that I grew up in a Bruce Springsteen house, and we all know there are only two types of people: Bruce Springsteen people and everyone else. As a child, my favorite song was "Dancing in the Dark" (partially because Monica Geller was in the video), and Bruce Springsteen's music has defined a lot of what I remember about my childhood. It's got a lot to do with why I'm a huge Arcade Fire fan ("One of those people" according to an old roommate, followed by a judgmental stare-down) and I think it's got a lot to do with why I instantly felt connected to the Hold Steady.
So we're good. I'm crazy about my boyfriend and I'm crazy about his favorite band. Next stop: Deer Tick (which, when I told my best friend about, she screwed up her face like she'd just smelled a fart and exclaimed "Deer Dick?! What a weird name for a band"). Meanwhile, I'm not the only one putting in the effort to learn the specifics of the other's delicate aural palate.
Recently, I sent my boyfriend an article with video of Vin Diesel lip synching (us both being huge Fast & Furious fans, again, a franchise he suggested I get involved in, being the gorgeous genius that he is), with the headline "Vin Diesel Lip Syncs to Beyoncé." The video, however, began with old mate Dominic Toretto lip-syncing to Katy Perry's "Dark Horse" before going off into Beyoncé's "Drunk in Love." Boyfriend -- bless his goddamn cotton socks, bless them to hell -- immediately wrote back to me "But this isn't Beyonce. It's Katy Perry." You know you've got a keeper when he's so involved in you he actually learns to identify the music of your two favorite pop queens. That's some next level feels right there.
When we accept a person into our lives, we take them warts and all. But there is an arbitrary line where we find ourselves saying, "You just go over there and do you, and I'll be just over here waving at you, while doing me." My boyfriend is objectively perfect in just about every way. I think the sun shines out of his ass, even when he's doing stinky farts. However, it turns out, despite his overall great taste in music, women and things generally, he's also a huge She & Him fan. And I absolutely draw the line at She & Him.
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