I think I know why, at first blush, I didn't really get Built to Spill. It's because I kept wondering: "Are these sad songs or happy songs?" I just never knew what I was supposed to feel.
But if you survive the initial put-off, you get hung up on a couple fantastic phrases ("and god is whoever you're performing for") and then you just keep listening. You learn all the songs and sing along, because somehow in spite of their detachment they're really fun to sing along to. If you're like me though you may never "get it." Seeing Doug Martsch and his happy summer camp counselor approach to performing ("thanks so much for letting us play for you, we've just got a few more") only adds to the confusion.
This brings us to hair care products. This morning I dredged up some expensive hair stuff that I bought a long time ago, more out of desperation than anything else--I'm living out of a suitcase at the moment. Two peach-colored bottles with orange caps. Now, which one was shampoo, and which conditioner? Because you know just like the next man I've been trained to always use one before the other. I certainly wouldn't want to make a crucial ordering mistake and RUIN MY HAIR FOREVER.
It was surprisingly hard to figure out. These were high-end hair care products, and by that I mean they did not advertise themselves as one or the other in vulgar fashion. The word "shampoo" finally appeared, small and italicized, in a paragraph surrounded above and below by similar paragraphs in French and Spanish. French was first.
The intent was clear: downplay the fact that this is just shampoo. Once you've eradicated the idea of shampoo from the consumer's brain, and he views this squat peach bottle with an orange cap simply as another "hair care product" in a long litany of hair care products that he must ritualistically apply each morning, you've got him. The oh-so-confining 2 step process--which no doubt took some serious fanagling to foist over on us in the beginning, during a time when there was maybe just "hair soap"--will be eradicated in favor of an N step process. We all become Patrick Bateman. Exfoliating gel followed by mint facial mask followed by...
Ok, so where's the connection? It is this: we're moving towards an era of ambiguity, where the hegemony of discreteness gets smeared out onto the continuum. It's both good and bad. Good because the music you're listening to is getting more interesting. You'll be able to listen to it for the next 5 years and not get bored. Bad because you have to deal with more complexity now. Bad because you don't know how you should feel about it really. And bad because you're probably going to waste a lot of time in the shower squinting at strange runes inscribed on "hair care products."Posted by Alan at March 25, 2006 02:56 PM