Tips on how to be a music nerd.
I. Make lists. Anyone who saw High Fidelity probably had a laugh at all the top ten lists they made. Yet, such lists are a real pursuit of the music nerd. Be aware that many of the good lists have already been done, such as top ten songs to break up to, top ten songs for a Saturday night and so on. Hence there is scope for some original lists, and a real music nerd strives for originality. Here are some ideas for lists that I have started that you might like to use to get you going:
10 reasons that Tales of Topographic Oceans by Yes is a really good album.
- Rick Wakeman proved that it is good to eat a curry to.
10 highlights of Bill Wyman’s solo career
- A New Fashion from his eponymous album of 1982 is a really good song. (You think I’m joking don’t you? I’m not. I really like the song; it’s catchy)
Just as you will have your lists, other nerds will have theirs. It is important that you denigrate their choices just as much as you vehemently argue the case for yours. You are a connoisseur of fine music. They are idiots. And their lists are crap.
Why not make lists that reflect that, such as: The most overrated top 10 songs appearing on other peoples’ top 10 lists.
II. Music nerds use words like eponymous. No one else does.
III. Cultivate the interesting yet useless ‘sidebar fact’ about music matters, the ‘did you know’ tangent. Then use this fact whenever you can, and however you can.
IV. The mix tape is a fantastic way to spread the message about your music nerd beliefs. Be aware though that just anyone can put a bunch of songs together. You need to stand out from the rest. Why not introduce each song on your tape. Explain its significance and importance, the history behind the writing, the production, the band members and all of their various contributions (Kris Kristofferson was the janitor at the Blonde On Blonde sessions – musical sidebar fact, see point III), and lastly highlight some pointers for your listener’s enjoyment. Mention how at 1.31 of Making Time by the Creation the feedback solo reaches a crescendo that will melt their eardrums.
A real mix tape should be half your songs and half your introductions.
V. As a music nerd you must have a ‘music cause’. Find a band or artist for you to endorse above all others. Ideally this chosen one should be obscure. Remember that obscurity is an important factor in your choice. It is up to you to be the apostle spreading the good word. Just because your chosen one has had no chart success ever is a sign that they are either above that or that the audience is not yet ready for it or that their record company is to blame.
Personally I started out with Big Star, who are obscure for all three reasons above. I gave out their music to everyone I knew. I presented their third album, usually referred to as Sister Lovers (did you know that this album was never officially released so to this day there is no correct track sequence for this album – this is another example of a sidebar fact) to everyone I knew when it was their birthday. Since you live in Australia, I explained, you must own this album, it has a song called Kangaroo on it.
Sadly I had to give up my pushing of the Big Star message, since one of their songs was used as the title music in That 70’s Show. I should be spreading the word of their greatness, not some sit-com with Ashton Kutcher.
VI. To a music nerd it ain’t a CD Shop. It is a record store.
VII. Trying to drop song titles and lyrics into everyday conversation is good, but why stop there? I knew of a guy who titled all of his research papers after Van Morrison songs. What a music nerd!
VIII. Ever considered doing a PhD? As a music nerd someone needs to do some study into who really did shoot the deputy.
IX. Name your pets after song titles. No other dog in my neighbourhood is called Sad eyed lady of the lowlands. Admittedly getting her dog tags engraved put a dent in my weekly music budget but it’s worth it as I now have an excuse to sing one of my favourite songs every time I call the dog inside.
X. Have some strange theories about artists. Allow me to share one of mine to give you an idea of what I mean. Consider the name Lou Reed. Say it fast, ‘Lou Reed, LouReed, Lurid’ – you see, his very name is the subject matter of his best songs.
XI. Be smug about other ‘so-called’ music fans. Whenever I see someone wearing a Led Zepplin t-shirt I smile, knowing that Jimmy Page stole the introduction to Stairway to Heaven from Taurus by Spirit. And then there’s the little matter of everything else they stole from Willie Dixon. And don’t get me started on poor Jack Holmes. The point is only mere music fans wear Led Zep tops. Music nerds know better. Music nerds respect and honour those who really created the music.
XII. A real music nerd has a meditation mantra something like mine: “Richard Thompson is the greatest living English singer, songwriter and guitarist ever”.
XIII. Lastly leave a legacy and honour your children with the names of musicians and performers that you admire. Now I am not going to reveal what names I have lined up for my future offspring but I can give you those names that did appear on my first shortlist.
(Hopefully you have boys)