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Miseducation of an Indie kid

Nick Anderson | Tuesday, November 3, 2009

 I am a music snob. I listen to British soul artists, spend hours in music stores searching dusty stacks of scratched vinyl, watch remastered DVDs of decades old concerts, spend more on headphones than most people do on their iPods, endlessly praise the music of Tom Waits, rewatch Prince’s “Purple Rain,” publicly scoff at Pitchfork but still read the reviews, and know who won the Mercury Music Prize last year.


I’m proud of all this. 


In my defense, this all started back in the eighth grade. As a chubby 14 year old with glasses, acne, the coordination of a lesser evolved species, Napster, and a broadband Internet connection, I needed something to provide a wonderful feeling of superiority. I did some things right (acquire the entire Beatles catalogue), some wrong (piracy) and some to this day that I’m ashamed to admit (acquire the entire Creed catalogue, including several live songs). 


By the time I made it to high school, I was a full blown music elitist. I couldn’t even stomach a conversation with you unless you knew the finer points of British rap, understood the progression of punk starting in ‘77 or had a French bootleg of some lost Whiskeytown tracks.


This past summer, two events shattered my longstanding relationship with music. First, I got my own car. Second, I purchased Kanye West’s “808s and Heartbreak.” 

Test driving cars with my father, I could have cared less about the make, model or style. It needed a couple of seats, a working stereo, and the ability to make the journey between Minnesota and Notre Dame. In the end, I ended up with a Kia Spectra5. It meets my minimal criteria. 


One bright July morning, as a friend’s Jetta rumbled away from my four cylinder steel box, I realized most people feel the same way about music as I do about cars —  they really don’t care. While this doesn’t make sense to me, it did bring a pang of regret for the 70s pop mixtapes I’d subjected them to over the years. 


Mere weeks later, a good friend submitted Kanye West for my consideration. I scoffed, hemmed and hawed, ranted about the state of popular music right up until I listened to the album. For those of you who missed it, “808s and Heartbreak” was, without a doubt, the best album of 2008.


This album ushered a return to the wasteland that is Top 40 radio following a self imposed seven year hiatus. I didn’t miss much in that time, but the singles that I missed were excellent.  


It’s a rather long way to do it, but this is my apology for and recognition of the snobbery. While I can guarantee I won’t abandon my ways, if you ever get sick of me raving about Brazil’s newest export, just ask what car I drive.