A few weeks ago, I was having a heated argument with some friends about music. Specifically, Bob Dylan. This is a very touchy subject for me considering the Jesus-like position Bobby occupies in my life. I should also note that the friends I was with are not musicians. This is important, because musicians, when paired with non-musicians instantly become for lack of a better term, music snobs. It sounds harsh, but we secretly love it. Being a snob connotes many things, one of which is the possession of some “secret” knowledge the other party isn’t privy to, thus providing said snob with much existential pleasure. There is no more special feeling to a music snob than being able to say: “Oh, you never heard of Yo La Tengo? I have all their early stuff on vinyl”.

The argument we were having revolved around Dylan’s voice, or according to my friends, lack thereof. They argued that his voice, in all its raspy, scotch-drenched, broken-glass qualities, obscured the words and took the listener out of the experience. My jaw was clenched. I vividly remember fantasizing about smashing their heads in with an air conditioner like that classic scene in High Fidelity. This went on for a while; Dylan can’t sing, he can’t carry a tune, we don’t understand what he’s saying…bla bla bla.

I was eagerly awaiting my turn, to be tapped in, and jumped into the conversation arms flailing, one-two punching away. “What the Hell are you all talking about!?” “He is a genius, he uses his voice as a tool to convey emotion, etc.” It was like a TED talk. I continued to give them what I believed were valid, educated, and may I say, enlightened facts about the craft of songwriting, singing and performance art. But from where I was standing, I might as well have been talking to a bunch of deer on the side of the highway; they just had this blank stare and then said what every music snob hates to hear: “well, that’s just your opinion, and you can’t argue with taste”. WHAT!? They could have said that we never landed on the moon. That’s how outrageous this statement was to me. What’s next? Elvis is living on an island with Tupac? Come on, guys!

Anyway, I let it go, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that they were wrong, and I was right, and all I needed was a chance to prove it. A few days later, my brother called. “Hey, have you heard this song from DiiV? “Who?” I answered. My brother replied with “Oh they’re this great band from…” He didn’t need to finish the sentence. I immediately became the “outsider”, the one not in the loop. No longer was I the one pontificating about the virtues of the Telecaster vs the Strat; John vs Paul, The Beatles or the Stones. The world had changed. While I was immersing myself in my role of “under appreciated suburban rock critic”, tastes had changed, evolved into something else entirely. Now I was the one learning about the new hot bands. I was happy to discover new music but resentful that I hadn’t gotten to it first. Because, what is better to a music snob that teaching others what to like?

I still relish a good “oh, you havent’ heard of…” but now, I try to see it from the other side. I look forward to my friends coming over with new records I haven’t discovered yet, and will even at least consider that some people may not like Dylan or Tom Waits because of their voice, however wrong they may be.

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About The Author

Andre Papanicolaou
Collaborator - RREVERB

Andre Papanicolaou is a Montreal-based singer/songwriter, producer, touring and session guitarist. Over several years of recording and touring with other artists (Vincent Vallières, Daran, Pascale Picard Band, Patrice Michaud), Papanicolaou began to carry around a notebook and write down a series of essays. He brings to RREVERB a unique point of view: the one of a professional musician.