I need to learn to take recommendations with a grain of salt. I purchased, via iTunes, some CDs by a certain artist* because Image Journal wrote highly of him. I guess he’s considered an “indie” artist, whatever that means. I hear he’s popular, and I know a few people who love his music.

Oh dear, oh dear.

The first track had trumpets on it. Really, really bad trumpets. I’m not kidding; it sounded like bad high school playing. Or maybe even junior high. My boys certainly get a better sound and have a better clue about intonation.

But then … moving ahead … we get to a track where I say to myself, “Is that oboe?” I mean, I really couldn’t tell. Until a few tracks later. Yes, indeed, it’s oboe. Extremely bad oboe. Played by the singer himself, as it turns out. He’s definitely not an oboist. At all.

And the man’s voice. Well, after a while I get weary of that kind of wispy, emotional, not-singing-full-out voice that is so commonly used now in movies and TV. I want him to just SING, for Pete’s sake (or at least my sake).

So if I can’t trust Image for music, can I trust them for other recommendations? I wonder.

But, foolish me, I went and purchased three CDs because these folks raved about this guy. Now that was simply foolishness on my part. I should have purchased only one to begin with, listened to it, and I would have realized it doesn’t work for a picky oboist like me.

A friend who is into the “indie” scene once told me she hates the classical musician who refuses to listen to other sorts of music but at the same time argues that other music is horrible. I agreed with her. But I’m sorry to say there are reasons we tend to steer clear of certain music.

Do I sound like a snob? Probably. But I think any time we suggest something isn’t good we are accused of being snobs. That’s life. I do think I am qualified to judge oboe playing, and I do think I can recognize bad trumpet playing. And, contrary to some of my friends’ opinions, I do think intonation matters.

And just so you know, I don’t believe every singer has to have that “perfect” voice. I do enjoy singers whose voices, in fact, aren’t considered “beautiful”. (Randy Newman comes immediately to mind. Tom Waits too.) So I’m not suggesting that I want to hear some beautiful operatic voice when I listen to this sort of music. Honest.

But I’ll stop now. I’m mostly just annoyed with myself for buying something without listening or thinking. Sigh.

*I am not naming names here. I hate attacking someone personally. Am I being a wimp? Maybe. But there you go. If you want to know who the artist is, just email me.