Usually I just smile and nod when I read Stuff White People Like, but #108 calls for some kind of verbal response, especially for this:
If a white person starts talking to you about classical music, it’s essential that you tread very lightly. This is because white people are all petrified that they will be exposed as someone who has only a moderate understanding of classical music. When a white person encounters another white person who actually enjoys classical music (exceptionally rare), it is often considered to be one of the most traumatic experiences they can go through.
I’m perhaps not as white as all that got Mexicans and Syrian/Lebanese on one branch of the family tree but I have no qualms about admitting here that I have, at best, a moderate understanding of classical music, and by “moderate” I mean “less than Lynn” or “less than Dr. Weevil” or “less than Steph Waller.” And I don’t fear discussion of the topic with any of them, or with anyone else on a similar level, if only because I stand to learn something in the process.
This commentary on Satie, though, is golden:
Composing at the end of the 19th century, Satie has risen to prominence among white people because his music has been sampled by popular musicians and featured in a number of independent films. Dropping this name at a dinner party will show that you are modern and post-modern at the same time. It is also a good idea to tell white people that your tastes in general are “modern and post-modern at the same time.” Don’t worry, you won’t have to explain it.
I figured there are two ways I can drop Satie’s name:
- by mentioning Blood, Sweat & Tears, who, on the first post-Al Kooper album, did a couple of bits from Trois gymnopédies, which mostly reminded me how much I dislike quasi-orchestral transcriptions of piano works;
- by quoting a story about him told by Meredith Willson, about a dustup between Satie and Debussy: supposedly, they were attending a performance of La mer, and during the first movement, “De l’aube à midi sur la mer” “Dawn to noon on the sea” Satie is supposed to have said to Debussy something to the effect of “I really like that part in there about a quarter to twelve.” Debussy, in return, turned his dudgeon up to 11.
Neither of these tales, of course, will accord me any concert-hall credibility.