Commentaries
8:00 am
Sat December 21, 2013

Confessions Of A Music Snob

Nobody likes a music snob. Sometimes they can come off as bullies, like the music clerk played by Jack Black in High Fidelity. WFAE’s Morning Edition host Kevin Kniestedt doesn’t think he’s that bad, but realizes that he may share some characteristics.


A listener recently complimented me for a particular song that I played coming out of a story during Morning Edition. I wasn’t impressed. The listener mistook that song with a different one.

“How could she?” I announced to my coworkers. “Those two songs sound absolutely nothing alike!” My boss called me a music snob.

Later that same day, I learned that WFAE’s Marshall Terry isn’t a fan of Jimmy Buffett. This bothered me.

“How can you not like Jimmy Buffett?” I asked. "His songs are the anthems of summer!”

I was annoyed with…me. . I’ve always taken pride in never criticizing the musical tastes of others. I’m a jazz fan, and most people my age are not. I would be met with considerable resistance if I tried to force my musical tastes on others.

Ridiculing the tastes of others isn’t much different.

Music snobbishness is often passed along in very mild forms. “Sure that band is great, but you HAVE to hear them live.” Why do I HAVE to hear them live? I can’t appreciate the music unless I dropped 100 bucks on a concert ticket and a tour t-shirt?

Then there are those that love to ridicule others who haven’t heard of some underground band. “Oh, you haven’t heard of the Screaming Flank Steaks? I thought you knew something about music.” There seems to be some sort of irony in expressing that everyone should know about an underground band.

It is likely that we all have a tiny bit of music snob in us. If I told you that I had a special place in my heart for the folk-turned-country singer Jewel, would you raise an eyebrow? If I told you that a girl I thought I once might marry used to listen to her all of the time in the car and I enjoy her because of old, heart aching nostalgic reasons, does that alter your judgment?  And either way, should what you think make a difference?

Perhaps none of us intend to be snobby; we just want others to understand our passion. But when our passion turns into a need to educate is when the snobbishness runs the thickest.

I like how jazz drummer Art Blakey put it. “People didn’t come to listen to music to be educated. The music is supposed to wash away the dust of everyday life. They just came here to enjoy themselves. If they start feeling like they need to be educated to it, it’s not interesting anymore.” 

Of course, if you don’t know who Art Blakey is, you don’t know ANYTHING about music.