To ever start liking you …

Does whether or not you like a writer or singer determine if you listen to or read their stuff?

This question occurred to me a while back. I had a playlist on Rhapsody I wanted to share with a friend of mine. When I told her a particular artist was on it, she became quite indignant and said that she HATED this singer (personally and not musically, from what she said) and didn’t care to listen to him.

I thought that was interesting. Absent a conviction for a serious criminal offense or some REALLY nasty behavior on the part of a given artist, I’ve always put the merit of the art above whether I was interested in the performer or writer as a person. As an example, I think Harlan Ellison is a great writer. However, I have no interest in ever meeting with him or talking to him; for all that we’re both from Cleveland, I really don’t think I have much in common with him and I find his curmudgeon image annoying, frankly. That doesn’t stop me from picking up some of his stories and reading them from time to time.

Same with music: My whole generation grew up with people like Mick Jagger, Jim Morrison, the Sex Pistols, etc., etc. Great musicians in most cases, but not necessarily someone you wanted to invite to dinner. (Yes, I know — a lot of it was stagecraft and not personality, but still …) I love U2, but I know Bono bugs a lot of people (“Okay, Edge, play the blues!”) and even if they might like the band’s music, they don’t listen to it for that very reason.

So. Should the artist transcend his/her work? Or should the work stand on its own merits, independent of the person who created it?

On Rhapsody: “Dreaming With a Broken Heart”, John Mayer
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One thought on “To ever start liking you …

  1. Interesting question! I try to take the art separately from the individual who created it, but I think knowledge of the artists life can often color perceptions, even if only subconsciously. I think it’s far less apt to influence me on an author or painter or musician, where I don’t actually see them. On actors, where I have to look at the actual individual, I am far more influenced by their behaviors and do find myself avoiding certain ones for reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of their performance.

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