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TOL Pick: Boring Music
There's a great article in A.V. Club musing over boring music versus "boring" music.
Any kind of music can be boring depending on the listener. No song is inherently not-boring because boring is obviously based on subjective perception ... In a sense, all music is boring. The same, however, can’t be said about “boring” music.
“Boring” is its own genre. It is a code word that instantly conjures artists with clearly definable attributes. “Boring” music is slow to mid-tempo, mellow, melodic, pretty in a melancholy way, catchy, poppy, and rooted in traditional forms. It is popular (or popular-ish). It is tasteful, well-played, and meticulously produced.
The article ultimately concludes:
Boring is okay. At least with boring we’re talking about something real; “boring” is a construct. Boring can be the start of a dialogue, the first step in exploring a new galaxy of sounds you’re just beginning to discover; “boring” shuts that dialogue down, and draws lines and creates divisions where they don’t need to exist.
Simply, when someone talks about music being boring, a conversation is taking place about personal connection to music. Versus, writing an artist or song off as "boring" and ending a conversation.
After reading this article, I immediately thought of Bob Dylan's famed 1966 concerts in England's St. Albert Hall and Manchester Free Trade Hall. (The original bootlegs have since been memorialized through a remastered cd and Martin Scorsese's documentary No Direction Home)
This concert captures Bob Dylan at the most influential and confrontational point in his career. Dividing his concerts between a solo acoustic folk set and a rock set, with his famous backing band (The Band), Dylan powers through a list of classic songs that still influence modern music. However, when faced with the stark difference between the two sets, many members of the crowd grew angry at Dylan's new songs. Some seeing his new electric direction insulting to the modern folk movement he helped reshape.
Here's my favorite song from the first acoustic set, "She Belongs to Me"
Hear that applause? By the second set, Dylan is confronted by a heckling crowd. Neither of the songs (the other, I will get to in a second) are boring. However, they represent the divisions between safety and risk, new and old, and how the barriers we create divide us from both.
Coming to the last song in the second set, Dylan is called "Judas" by a screaming audience member. After, there is more clapping and then followed by, "I'll never listening to you again, ever!" There is a pause and Dylan states, "i don't believe you." Another pause and then, "you're a liar." He turns to The Band and says, "play f**ing loud." They launch in to an seven minute version of "Like a Rolling Stone." And at the end, the audience cheers.