During my junior year of college, my roommates and I won the "Worst Music" voting in end-of-year balloting conducted on our floor, Wheeler Hall seven, at Central Michigan University.
Three of the four of us knew why: It was the fourth roommate's unshakeable, unbreakable obsession with Tom Jones. And only Tom Jones. It was all she wanted to hear.
Maybe that roommate, Darlene, was ahead of the curve. After all, Tom Jones years later became a sort of kitschy favorite singer for many.
But to this day, "She's a Lady" brings back a shudder as I remember those long-ago battles over whose vinyl went on the turntable in our dorm room.
Kathy wanted to play Bob Dylan. Brenda favored Johnny Cash. Me? That was my Peter Frampton-Steely Dan phase. But the three of us could agree on something: No Tom Jones, which forced poor Darlene to put her idol's music on when the rest of us were away from the room. Which was frequently. We were told by others on the floor when Darlene had the chance to listen to Tom Jones, she cranked the volume up to 11.
This all came to mind after reading some Facebook posts after the Super Bowl halftime performance by Bruno Mars and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Mixed reviews? No, it was beyond that. Insults were hurled at Mars or at RHCP or both.
And insults is the word. It wasn't criticism. Basically, the theme of many of the rants was "so-and-so's" music needs to be erased from the planet. Which is annoying, at least to me.
Can't we all get along? After all, as long as no one forces you to listen to it, can't you just let other people enjoy the artists they enjoy?
Don't like Mars and/or Flea & Co.? Change the channel or hit the mute button.
Back in the late 1970s we tried to convert Darlene from being a Tom Jones fan. All these years later, I know that's a losing cause. People like what they like.
You know what? They should be able to listen to it.
Guess it's galling to me when a person espouses the belief that only the music of which he or she approves should be permitted to exist. Any given day on Facebook, there are diatribes against Justin Bieber, Nickelback and other music stars.
If someone else wants to spend hard-earned money downloading a song you don't like, what's it to you? If a friend's iTunes account is one Lady Gaga tune after another, so what?
My advice to those who want to control the "press play" buttons of the world is this: Let it be.
Listen to the music you love. Allow others to do the same.
Support musicians by buying their originals, by purchasing their T-shirts and for goodness sake most of all, getting to their live shows. That goes for local music, especially. We are blessed here with a per capita overload of amazing singers, guitar players, bassists, drummers and other musicians.
We have quality songwriters right here in the central Upper Peninsula.
Please be a true fan and support their work. And when you do, go ahead and turn it up to 11.
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253.