I’ve been working all week on a new mix for our good pal Patchy’s birthday.  Few things consume me as wholly as composing mixes and getting them in the proper order.  Not only does the mix have to fit the recipient perfectly, but the song choices also say a lot about me.  For instance, I wanted a Clash song in there, but spent a ridiculously long time debating which one she’d like best…and, more importantly, would make me look good, because I know other people will end up hearing my creation.  My first choice for a Patchy song was “Should I Stay or Should I Go;” Patchy likes upbeat, sing-along songs for driving, stuff she can bob around to.  But…it seemed like such an obvious choice, the kind of song someone who’s only heard a few Clash songs would pick.  It’d be like picking a Kings of Leon song and going with “Sex on Fire” (thought about that, too…it’s a catchy song!).  Why not K’s fav “Know Your Rights”?  Or one of mine, “Lost in the Supermarket”?  Patchy wouldn’t like those as well, but that’s not really the point, now is it?

Recently, Patchy and I had a related discussion while making plans to attend the Muse concert in October.  I was a bit disconcerted to discover they’d be playing the Target Center and tickets were $53.  But…what happened to my beloved, obscure British prog/space/absurdly-high-note-hitting band?  “It’s cuz their songs are played on the radio every hour,” Patchy explained. “You don’t listen to the radio.”  Ah ha!  The johnny-come-latelys are to blame!  (“Don’t be a snob,” my mom chastised me when I related this story.  “You can’t begrudge your bands success.”  Oh, can’t I?!).  Patchy reminded me, “I’m one of those people who only know who Muse is because they’re played every hour.”  This is no problem for her.  Perhaps she’s more enlightened than I am, or maybe she’s just less passionate about her bands.  Music is music to Patchy, and she doesn’t feel she has to justify liking whatever strikes her fancy.  I, on the other hand, feel extremely disappointed in myself if I fall in love with a band on their fourth album.  What’s my problem?  Why didn’t I discover them earlier? 

Yet in the last few years, I’ve developed a hard crush on Nick Cave, and his band the Bad Seeds already had a good ten albums out before I came around.  That’s not such a bad thing, it turns out.  The wonderful thing about discovering a band with a back catalog is that you have a whole wealth of music to enjoy all at once, rather than catching someone on the first disc and waiting years for more, only to be disappointed when it doesn’t live up to your expectations and longing. 

Similarly, I have a snobby problem with books turned into movies.  I feel compelled to read the book first, to do it justice, to honor the author’s intent, blah blah blah.  Which is stupid, really, because I effectively kill any enjoyment I would have otherwise gotten from the movie.  Patchy also has wisdom to offer on this score: you should see the movie first so you can enjoy it and read the book later, because the book will always be better.  (I submit at least one exception: The Notebook.  Treacly book, but surprisingly romantic movie.)  I watched an excellent Bogie movie recently called In a Lonely Place that’s an apt example of this.  What a great movie!  However, when I watched the special features, I learned this film was based on a book, and the director completely altered major plot points, including the ending.  Huh.  If I’d read the book first, I probably would have hated the movie, but having seen the movie first, I’m kind of interested now to track down the book and see how the original story played out.  Score one for Patchy’s theory (no one tell her she was right!).   

So what do you think?  Does popularity ruin a cult favorite band?  Do movies ruin books?  Such deep thoughts today…  (Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I did put “Should I Stay or Should I Go” on Patchy’s mix.  In fact, there’s hardly anything halfway obscure on there.  She’ll probably love it.)