top of page

Entry date: 5-6-2024 – Why Do We Like Certain Things? – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,


Today’s title is brought to you by the question of the day. I believe strongly you should never stop asking questions. You can learn a lot by asking them.


Curiosity is a natural thing. How can you not want to know more about, well, everything? I’m not sure when, but I read or heard that teachers should never stop learning. Once a teacher feels they know everything, they are done. They should retire, change professions, or find a cave somewhere. People who know it all can’t teach anyone anything.


I woke up wondering about why I like certain things. Today’s record, for example, is one of those things that I truly loved once. Now, well, read a little further below and see what I have to say, but the point that is sticking with me right now is “Why do I like things.”


Sometimes it is obvious. Jaws, for example, is a perfect movie. It has all the elements you want from a movie. It is beautiful to look at and hear, the acting is impeccable, the direction engaging and creative, and it provides the opportunity to visit Amity Island whenever you want. It is a wonderful bit of frightening yet triumphant escapism.


I’ve painstakingly described why I love 125 different records so far. I’m so happy to be more than a third of the way done, for sure, but the constant of examination of why I like things is starting to seep into other areas of my life. I find myself analyzing a lot of different things.


It’s been positive for the most part, but sometimes I wonder why one thing makes the cut, but something very similar does not. Case in point, I love making music, but the idea of making it by myself using all the wonderful technology at my finger tips is unappealing. I keep hoping that it will someday become appealing to me, too, but it hasn’t happened yet.


I love many of Quentin Tarrantino’s movies, but I struggle with some key elements of Pulp Fiction which is arguably his most famous and well-loved movies. I also have never been able to get down with either of the Kill Bill volumes. People love these movies, but I’d rather watch Jackie Brown all day long than either of them.


One of the movies I loved as a kid was A Little Romance with Laurence Olivier, Diane Lane, and Thelonius Bernard. I wanted to be Bernard’s character, “Daniel,” and I had a huge crush on Diane Lane, but watching it as an adult is almost unbearable. Other than the soundtrack, there wasn’t much I could stand about it and Olivier’s “Julius” character comes off as kind of a creepy, old man.


This question of why I do or do not like things will probably rage on and I fear it doesn’t make for very good blog copy, but it’s been on my mind. Perhaps there is an underlying fear that when I start peeling back the layers of things, I’ll find that I don’t really like things I’ve held dear out of some sort of nostalgia. Either that or I’ll realize I have terrible taste.


Buddhism teaches us to let go of things from the past because attachment to things and/or the past is a good recipe for dissatisfaction. It’s good to have a healthy respect for the past, but holding onto it keeps us from being present in the moment we actually have. I would add that embracing these lessons of why we feel the things we feel is a good thing.


Be yourself and accept who you are, even if you have questionable taste, I suppose.


That’s a lot for a Monday.




11-year-olds like the darnedest things.


Back in 1980, 11-year-old me loved the movie, The Jazz Singer, which starred Neil Diamond. I’d love to go back and interview myself about what I loved about the movie. There would be a considerable amount of hope that I would say something like:


Neil Diamond is so bad at acting that it made the movie fun to watch.


The truth of the matter is probably more that ON-TV played it all the time in the summer of 1981. I also really liked the songs. I was a Neil Diamond fan, so why wouldn’t I like the movie. To be honest, I haven’t seen the film in a long time and to watch now might feel a bit like opening a time capsule.


I did, however, have the soundtrack on cassette and listened to it a lot. At one point, I think I knew just about every word on it. Thankfully, those memories have passed on to neurological heaven.


I have bought a couple copies of the soundtrack on vinyl, too, with the idea of spinning a few of the tracks here and there. For some reason, I’ve never gotten around to it and tend to forget, every few years, that I already have it when I see a pristine copy in the used bin at the record shop for $2. It’s a curse.


For what it is worth, “America” is a pretty fun song. I still like it, even if it is a bit ham-handed in the part where he sings a bit of “My Country, Tis of Thee.” The simple little riff that plays in the background in the beginning is a fucking ear room. Just writing about it makes it pop into my head. It’s on the soundtrack twice, too.


A lot of the rest of the record is a snapshot of what was popular in music in 1979 and ’80. “You Baby” is replete with disco guitar and hand claps. “Love on the Rocks” was a favorite of mine in the day and, damn it, I still like it now. Sure, it’s cheesy, but it comes off as heartfelt.


I really want to bag on this record, to be honest, but as I’ve been listening to it in preparation to write about it, I have been sucked back in. This is what music is supposed to do, though. There are no real surprises here.


Now, I don’t think I’ll be rocking out to songs like “Amazed and Confused” very often, but right now, it brings back a strange feeling being a boy again. “On the Robert E. Lee” is a fun one and the banjo sounds good.


I can’t do “Summer Love,” though. Skip.


“Hello, Again” reminds me of the song Neil Diamond did about E.T., for some reason, but it is a really pretty song. The arrangement of the strings in the intro is pretty rad. It was a pretty popular song when I was in 6th grade. If I remember correctly, it was set against a montage of Diamond thinking about his movie dad, Laurence Olivier. I could be making that up, too.


“Acapulco” is super forgettable. So is “Hey Louise” which sounds like a typical Diamond song. It’s catchy and has a good beat, but there are twenty better versions. “Songs of Life” is terrible but I would love to hear Bauhaus cover it.


I never realized how much Neil Diamond and Peter Murphy have in common.


“Jerusalem” is a great riff. Funky rock and roll brilliance. The piano sounds great on it, too. I like it and I haven’t heard it for 40 years.


I came to bury The Jazz Singer and ended up praising it. I guess I love it still.




See you tomorrow.

Free. Only Want to be Free. We huddle close and hang onto a dream.

15 views0 comments


Post: Blog2 Post
bottom of page