Okay, first of all, let it be known that I would say this to Marc’s face. Just so everybody knows: this is not me starting some silly blogger fight or talkin’ smack about Marc Barnes. I feel exasperated but I am also saying this with a smile on my face. For the sake of charity and clarity I want to point all that out.
And actually, I would love to have him over to the house for dinner so we could discuss music. He’s a poor college student, right? He could bring a couple of his poor college student friends, and I would make them some home-cooked meal: enchiladas, cubed steak with mushroom gravy, homemade pizza, maybe my husband would grill burgers and steaks. We’d give them beer (are they 21?) and I’d have my super awesomely good chocolate chip cookies for dessert.
An added bonus is that time with my five kids aged five and under would be what a seminarian friend calls a “cele-booster” for Marc and his chastity-pursuing friends. It would be a highly beneficial, fun evening for all.
But at some point in the meal Marc would say something like:
Now the merely popular does not have this quality [of being continually, universally good]. Popular music is consumed and digested at an incredible rate. There is no honest “going back” to songs that are released as objects of fashion. Popular music has no scent of immortality about it — it must be continuously replaced by “the next big thing.” If any one doubts this, I defy them to listen to “Call Me Maybe” with honest enjoyment, free from nausea, nostalgia or irony. There is no inherent good aimed at in fashionable music, and thus it barely lasts a month before it is used up and discarded.
And I would return by leaning towards him and shaking my fists while semi-shouting and laughing:
I can! I *can* enjoy “Call Me Maybe” without being nauseous, nostalgic, or ironic. Because it’s just a fun song. That’s it. It’s not supposed to be beautiful or transcendental. It’s just supposed to be enjoyed right now – as it comes on the radio when you’re driving in your car or getting ready for a date night or making breakfast for your kids.
It’s like listening to The Kingsmen’s “Louie, Louie” or Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” or Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby”. Okay, that last one might be a little nostalgic. Yet there was no nostalgia, nausea, or irony when I listened to those other songs as a child and there’s none when I listen to them today. They are nothing more than pop songs, simple and redundant and with ridiculous lyrics, but I enjoyed them then and I enjoy them now.
They’re just fun and it’s OKAY (really, truly, I promise!) to enjoy things just because they’re fun. Like popsicles, dandelions, and trick-or-treating. In my house we enjoy Frappes from McDonald’s, bike rides around the block on a cracked sidewalk, and even a good fart joke. Those things are mediocre, mundane, and crass but we can still enjoy them. Not everything has to be about saving the world in grandiose, gorgeous ways. I’m not trying to belittle the very important role of beauty and excellence but the simple and ordinary are good, too.
Now, following all that, Marc may jokingly say:
Which would make me laugh because I love Sherlock.
But honestly, I’m okay sitting o’er here in the corn and soybean fields and being ordinary. I will wear my “gaggy Christian t-shirts”, eat Blizzards from Dairy Queen, and listen to “Call Me Maybe”. I will be ordinary and find worth in those things because it’s enough that I enjoy them. My enjoying them is a genuine part of who I am and there is value in just that. I don’t need to be embarrassed for liking pop music or pop culture, assuming that the pop culture we’re talking about is morally neutral. They do have an inherent goodness in that they are enjoyable, they make me and many other people happy, and that is enough.
So in conclusion:
Marc, just enjoy the flippin’ song. And if you’re interested in coming over for dinner, well, call me maybe.