Jason Isbell is one of my favorite musicians to follow on Twitter, in part because he has a fantastic philosophy about musical guilty pleasures. He summed this doctrine up perfectly on October 1 of this year, in a tweet that read, “There should be no guilty pleasures. Feel guilty about not enjoying things. Enjoy everything you can.” Those 102 characters made me so happy (as did some similar comments he made in an interview with Hear Ya), because they encapsulated my long held conviction that music is entirely what you make of it — you can dwell all you want on a band’s faults or a record’s weaknesses, but it’s way more fun to celebrate the aspects of that band or record that bring you joy. One reason this is true is that music, in many ways, is a personal experience. Sure, concerts can double as social events, and making music is extremely interactive, but the way we react to the songs we hear through our headphones is as personal as it gets. Sounds travel down our uniquely shaped ear canals, hit our one-of-a-kind ear drums and make their way up to our beautifully peculiar brains, and no two reactions are ever the same, so why apply a collective construct like shame to such a wonderfully solipsistic phenomenon? This idea jumped to the front of my mind when I was flipping through singles at Plan 9 and found a 7-inch single that was released to promote PCU, my favorite “Oh man, I can’t wait to get to college, it’s gonna be so awesome!” movies of my adolescence. My inner 14-year-old was beyond thrilled. I have such fond memories of, and strong mental associations with, the two featured tracks — Mudhoney’s cover of Elvis Costello’s “Pump It Up” and George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic’s recording of “Stomp” — that I honestly couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was as if I had stumbled across the glowing contents of the Pulp Fiction briefcase in that record bin (And it was just $3!). For a moment, I felt silly for my enthusiasm, but just as quickly, I realized I had found a glowing (literally — the vinyl is red!) testament to the fact that value is in the eye, or ear, of the listener, and that even though a record may only fetch a few bucks on ebay, it can still feel like a totally priceless artifact. If you’re as crazy about PCU as I am, you can bid on your own copy of the single here, and listen below to “Pump It Up” and “Stomp.” And don’t forget, no classes before 11, and beer is your best friend, so drink a lot of it. Now, can you blow me where the pampers is?
Mudhoney — “Pump It Up” (Elvis Costello cover)
George Clinton – “Stomp“