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Bottle 2 Tha Face, Yo

A very wise man and I were once having a conversation about the nature of arguments, and our musings led us to realize that the ultimate answer in any heated debate would be to smash a beer bottle against your opponent’s face. What kind of comeback could top that, really?

Him: “You see, I think that if the United States had simply learned the lesson the French were given at Dien Bien Phu–”
You: *SMASH*

Argument over, you’ve won.

Sometimes I need the musical equivalent of a bottle to the face. Usually I listen to music as a mood enhancer (the aural equivalent to having a beer on your porch), not a mood alterer. But when I draw or paint, for some reason I need songs that push buttons, not ones that hold hands. And of course I have a playlist for this (creatively entitled The Art Mix, wordsmith that I am), and it’s chockablock full of a lot of crappy heavy metal that I’d rarely admit listening to. But it seems OK because I can say, “Hey, it’s not like I listen to this stuff on its own, it’s just when I use this playlist!”

Some of it is great for the Memory Lane factor (any of the dozens of 80s hair band songs on there), and some of it is the best of what the genre has to offer, such as early Metallica. But the bulk of the list, the songs that seem to work the best for me, fall into basically three other categories: Tool/A Perfect Circle, Ice Cube, and techno.

I alluded to why I might need this kind of music inĀ a post I made on Sons of Sam Horn in a “Helmet vs. Tool” thread (we don’t only talk about baseball):

I couldn’t begin to try to explain why without sounding like a bumbling and pretentious asshole, especially since music criticism ain’t my bag, but I will say that I often listen to Tool when I’m drawing or painting, as if it were the music itself that was ripping aside some repressed lid off of my id and facilitating the process. Puts me where I need to be.

I have to attack when I create art, and that’s just generally not in my nature. Instead I’m inclined to observe and synthesize and maybe talk about it after the fact, and in the meantime, would anyone like another beer? But this more aggressive music is like the full moon to a werewolf for me. And it’s needed.

Because the piece of paper or the canvas is the enemy. And art takes a long, long time to make. Picture the painting surface not as stretched linen, but as a slab of cement, and I literally have to punch a piece of art out of it. And each power jab, each haymaker, it only creates the smallest hairline fissure with each blow, and it’s the cumulative effect of hundreds and thousands of these punches that slowly reveals the painting as the pulverized cement crumbles away.

Dan Fogelberg is not going to assist with that process.

But Vicarious will. Endangered Species will. Keep Hope Alive will. Never Gonna Come Back Down will. The music is the bottle to the face, no doubt, but am I the one swinging it or the one getting smashed across the bridge of the nose? Either way, it works, so I’m not complaining, but it’s an interesting question.