Music To Your Ears is in the Eye of the Beholder

Here’s a new game for the territory’s impending dinner party season.

Next time you trudge over to the neighbours — gluten-free pasta salad in tow — have a look at your host’s CD rack. Or, if they’ve advanced into more modern areas, skim their iPod playlist.

Scrutinize enough music libraries in the Yukon and you’ll realize that there are a lot of diverse tastes. Not only that, but I’d wager the more astute would be able to discern which Dawson City Music Festivals that person has attended.

There’s something about living in the North that engenders an eclectic musical taste or, more likely, the need to appear to have more esoteric musical knowledge than one’s peers. For eons, intimacy with obscure music somehow grants certain people a sense of cultural superiority.

This is not a case against musical snobbery or knocking anyone’s particular tastes, this is a case for musical acceptance.

I spent a good three years, working for a certain radio station in Whitehorse. I won’t name it, instead, I will just give you the initials: CKRW.

One of the hardest things to deal with was complaints about the music that would air.

“Why do you play that song all the time?” “I hate X!” “What time is the nooner on?”

(That last one did happen.)

Keeping in mind how much music means to people, and that the Yukon has some of the most diverse tastes imaginable, would you want the unenviable job of trying to satisfy the musical needs of the territory?

Likely not.

When I was through childhood, my musical gestation was filtered by the usual factors. My mother would listen to a lot of soft rock on the radio (this was the late 70s) with a bit of disco thrown in the mix. Rock stations filled our household and, once I was hurtling through puberty, something changed.

Call it the hormones, call it too much of the Dr. Demento radio show, but soon I was listening to a lot of 80s new wave, Skinny Puppy and “Weird Al” Yankovic almost exclusively. Yeah, I didn’t get out much, if that wasn’t obvious.

I went through my metal years spewing the usual teen angst into bellowing choruses and shrieking guitars. Honestly, that GWAR concert I went to when I was 16 still sticks with me to this day.

Quantum leap into the future and my tastes have not necessarily evolved, but I’ve fully committed to not put my money on one musical genre and just stick to whatever my ears enjoy.

I’m sure everyone reading this has similar stories.

Since living in the Yukon, I’ve also happily discovered some great bands, courtesy of the various wonderful music festivals in the territory. This actually engendered a stronger acceptance of different music, rather than an exclusive snobbery.

As I grew to appreciate new tastes, I could go back and sample older music, finding much to my liking. I never would have found the pure joy of spinning Stevie Wonder’s Signed, Sealed, Delivered if it hadn’t been for my working at CKRW. I can appreciate “Classic Rock” as much as I can understand the catchiness of modern pop.

Fine, the radio station doesn’t play that particular tune by that particular band you love, but you must consider two things:

First, considering everything I’ve mentioned, CKRW does a great job at pleasing so many different tastes for so many people.

Secondly, it will always be first and foremost, a community station. There’s no faceless corporation behind everything. If you have something to say about the programming, if you think there’s something that needs to change, its front door isn’t hard to find.

While you may not like what’s playing on-air, consider that there are plenty of other people who do.

It’s not the jock’s fault that music is subjective … it’s your tastes that aren’t.

After helping build a thriving comedy circuit for the Yukon, Anthony Trombetta is now on the road looking for a bigger stage. You can contact him at [email protected]

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