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When I first met Matty and Danny of South Shore Massachusetts’ favorite New Found Glory rip-off band, A Loss For Words, I said the same thing to both of them on different occasions:

“You seem like a nice guy, but I really hate your band.”

In retrospect, I probably could have phrased this better; hate is a strong word. This became apparently true when Matty’s usual goofy smile changed to a look of pure dejection. Oops. Hate was much too strong off a word when, in reality, I just never got the appeal. I tried to backpeddle, stumbling over my words, but it was useless…the damage, done. It was at that moment, right when I was about to choke on my own foot, that I finally got it.

“Oh,” I thought, “these guys are serious.”

And that of course, changed everything.

A Loss for Words have since grown on me exponentially (I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t mostly due to their cover of Boyz II Men’s Water Runs Dry) and it would be unfair if I didn’t admit that some of the best nights I’ve had were centered around their shows. For that, I am thankful, and will always appreciate them in a distant way. But my appreciation stems less from the actual music and more from the love that so obviously surrounds it. If I had dismissed these guys, I would be missing out on a lot of good friends and really great (albeit alcohol-induced), adventurous nights.

This distinction of whether or not someone is passionate about music became utterly important since then and it has stood for a much larger dichotomy in my life: Can I relate to someone who really, really loves horrible music?

One truth is this: I have never been able to relate to someone who doesn’t love music. If you have ever once uttered the phrase, “I like all music (except classical and country)” please stop reading now. It makes me cringe whenever I hear this and I immediately shut the speaker out of my life forever. This may be unfair, a little mean, a lot pretentious, but it’s the truth.

Another truth: I have come to similar conclusions about potential new friends if I learn that say, they do have an obvious passion and a  valid opinion about music and their opinion is that Puddle Of Mudd is the best band ever. Same thing: out of my life.

The second truth results in a bit more guilt because it’s opinion based. I am constantly trying to decide where to draw the line, and usually it defaults to: hey you, you with the DrowningPool sticker on your car, yah, out of my life. Sometimes, this blanket dismissal of a large part of the population makes me a bit sad. Am I missing out on experiencing some decent and eclectic friendships because I have such strong opinions? Probably not. Is it fair of me to judge others so harshly when I myself own an Ashley Simpson cd? Time and again, my answer is yes. It’s entirely fair to judge others so emptily on their taste in music. You may think that this makes me a shallow person, but I disagree. The fact that I only have attractive friends makes me a shallow person.

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“I thought back to that early morning in July of 1994 when absolutely nothing in the world seemed good or true except for one thing.”

-Dom Mallary

The best writing about music isn’t really about music at all. It took me about 10 years of serious writing and serious reading and serious avoidance of the music topic altogether to realize this. It wasn’t until I read the memoir of a friend about his first experience with punk rock that I felt like it would be okay to indulge in my passions. Dominic wrote about the first time he ever heard Green Day without every talking about the first time he every heard Green Day. It was refreshing.  If I could thank him for one thing, it would be showing me that it’s safe to talk about your passion; that passion is definitive and unavoidable and it’s okay to obsess, as long as there is perspective. I’ve always been afraid to write about music, even to talk about music. In that one, 7 page piece, Dom inadvertently showed me the way to not alienate all of my readers. The reality is, you never really get to know someone like you do in a non-fiction writing class. Although we weren’t that close when he passed right before Christmas, I will always be thankful that I still have his writing. It’s only fitting that I start off my musings about music with Dom’s words. This endeavor will be a constant attempt to produce something with half as much clarity as he did.

So here goes.