Behind The NPR Music: Gateway Songs, From Sleater-Kinney To Beethoven

Sleater-Kinney

Sleater-Kinney was a great band. From left: Corin Tucker, Janet Weiss and Carrie Brownstein Sub Pop hide caption

itoggle caption Sub Pop

It can be difficult to know how to discuss awesome things your colleagues do in a public forum, but why? There should be nothing wrong in letting people with whom you have a professional relationship know that you think they do something well and sharing that appreciation with others. For example: Ian, I'm impressed with your running talent and your adventurous choice in gum flavors. Trey, you write the best headlines ever. Evie, those latkes you made that one time last year were fantastic, thanks.

Sometimes the subject at hand conveniently applies to the mission of your blog:

1. Carrie Brownstein, your old band, Sleater-Kinney, is my favorite ever. Really, I loved that band. Still do. Yesterday you announced that you've got a new band, WILD FLAG, over on the All Songs Considered blog.

Rock music was a part of my life before I knew how to define it (most of my parents' old LPs are now on the shelf in my apartment), but Sleater-Kinney helped me fall in love with the genre, and to figure out what it was about rock that I loved. I spent the summer before my first year of college driving around my Northwest Washington hometown with a cassette of Dig Me Out on one side and Nirvana's Unplugged record on the other in my parent's station wagon, trying to figure out words to describe to my younger brother why this music was so great, why the overlapping guitars and voices — loud and demanding — did something that made me feel jittery and nervous inside, in a great way. It worked, eventually. The next summer, we drove down to Seattle together to see your band play a show on the pier. Winning that argument with my brother (though really, we both won, right?) was a great feeling too, and one that drives a lot of my continuing desire to talk about music today.

2. Tom Huizenga, welcome to the NPR Music blog family! Your classical music blog, Deceptive Cadence, has gotten off to a fantastic start. In particular I've loved reading the stories you've posted about the pieces that helped you, your audience and a handful of great musicians fall in love with classical music. [That piece, for me, was the second movement of Beethoven's Symphony No. 7. Yes, I was a bit of a moody, dreamy kid. The piece that made me fall in love with playing music was the first movement of Mahler's Symphony No. 1. I played the viola, but never mind — that piece is all about making a collective noise that's bigger than what you can create by yourself. It's an awesome thing to be in the middle of. Also, I'll never be able to fully convince myself that a part of me didn't love it for it's obvious influence on John Williams' Star Wars soundtracks.]

3. Both those posts — especially when Sleater-Kinney came up again in my conversation with Matthew Perpetua about the reunion of his favorite-ever band, Pavement — got me thinking about how we all begin to love a band, a type of music, an album or just a piece of music. Sometimes it's not a critic or an ad on TV — neither a Letterman spot nor a sick stage show.

Sometimes the only thing that can break through your preconceived notions about a style or a genre is a truly wonderful moment. A eureka moment. The first time you hear something that stops your heart. And that moment is a chink in your armor — no longer can all music of that kind be dismissed. Have you ever felt that? Have you ever ignored or purposefully shunned a band (ahem, Led Zeppelin) for years and then, out of nowhere, heard something that totally changed your mind (How the West Was Won)?

Other times the only thing that can change your mind is a hard sell. Someone that likes you thinks you're being an idiot and is willing to expend the energy and brainpower to bring you into the light. Do you remember a time you had to work to convince someone to give a band or a genre a shot? Has anyone done the same for you? What band would you be the willing to pester your friends and family about for months on end?

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