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Sobering Up: Turning a Critical Eye on Matt's Music

When I first started this blog, I talked a little about the things we overlook as fans when we're in the thick of fandom.


It seems to me that we are so willing to overlook flaws in the people we look up to, especially musicians. Now that the fog has really started to clear, my thoughts have drifted to Matt's music. I find myself reflecting on the evolution of his music, revisiting his lyrics (what they used to mean to me and what they mean now), and marveling at how easily I was able to turn off my rational, critical brain and just accept any new work as gold.


Insincerity?


I used to find such deep, raw emotion in every song. I mean really—I felt them so hard that sometimes it was difficult to listen. But now I can't help but look back and wonder if there is double meaning to every lyric. Is he telling on himself? Everything that used to seem obscure seems clearer now. The emotion that I used to think existed in each song just seems insincere, like I've been lied to. What a trip.


AAVE/Black English


This is gonna sound weird. I know. Just go with me here.


This is pretty common in the music industry, since so much of what music is today comes from the black community.


But it always really stuck out like a sore thumb when I heard it in Matt's music. The most prominent example I can think of is Harridan:


The same old place you go where fear's so simple get on done what you're told gonna clip your wings Well my head gone out of time my hear like belladonna swims some plasma undermine gone and clipped my wings ... I said I done what I done to play alive I always done beat me down gladly I gone and clipped my wings ...


The marked absence of auxiliary verbs and the present and past tense of "to be" is very characteristic of Black English.


This is just something that always kinda made me stop and think "hm, Black English". Now that I reflect on it more, all I can think is "white dude's using Black English to make money". It feels... icky.


(D)Evolution of Music


Listen, I'm aware that people change and evolve over time. It's human. And it's natural for musicians' styles to evolve over time, too.


I was so blinded as a fan that I never really noticed how I'd gradually stopped relating to the newer albums so much. I mean, I listened to them, and I praised them as artistically brilliant, because I was a super fan. Anything Matt made, I supported. But I always found myself skipping the new music and returning to the oldies.


I'd also say the same for his concerts. As the years passed, it seemed like he stopped putting any real effort in. People get older, of course, so things that used to come easily I'm sure got harder. But the quality of each show seemed to decline. I'm sure some of you readers are thinking back now and would agree. He started forgetting words to songs, getting drunk on stage (but denying it), etc. Not cute.


I remember when COVID started and there was a Side Door presentation (online concert). I was actually really pumped for this. I don't know what I expected. I imagined, I suppose, that he would put a little effort in. The show ended up being him in his parents' garage—which is, in theory, actually a really cool idea; a garage show—but it was truly disappointing. He drank and smoked the whole time, his set was pretty short and actually a little boring, and it seemed like the fan portion of the presentation was just an annoyance to him. I was conflicted after this show... but again, I overlooked it. My sister in law had watched it too, and she asked me later what I'd thought of it. I prefaced my thoughts with, "I love Matt's music, I think he's amazing, I really do... but..." and she finished my sentence with exactly what I was going to say, "it was disappointing".


Lessons


I learned from this. All of this, this shitty fandom experience. I realized I need to evaluate more critically the people I support and the media I take in. Silver lining?

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