I am currently in love with the soundtrack to Hamilton. There’s just something about historical musicals that I find so captivating–the skillful intertwining of the facts and fictionalized drama with musical numbers. My friends, on the other hand, don’t care much for it at all. It’s a clash of interests for the ages, a battle of wills that can only end with one victor.
One friend’s lack of appreciation for the lyrical genius that is the soundtrack of Hamilton is a source of strain in particular. A lack intellectual vitality can be the only explanation for how one can prefer the blasting of “X Gon’ Give It To Ya” on full volume to the “Great Rap Battles of History”-esque “Cabinet Battle #1” from one the greatest musicals of all time.
But what if it isn’t? What if there was another explanation, one that was more logical, more moderate, more rational? What if our differing music tastes were just that–different? What would it entail?
I like to think that aside from our differing capacities for musical appreciation, my friend and I are pretty similar. We share similar tastes in apparel, technology, literature, humor. Our physical tastes may be marked by slight disagreement, but that’s more or less inconsequential.
So why the drastic difference in our love for music? Is it just another unsolvable mystery of the universe? Or is the effect of something bigger?
Let’s run with the second idea for a little bit. Despite our seemingly endless number of shared characteristics, in the end, we are two completely different individuals. He’s good at tennis; I, not so much. He goes to the movies at most once a month; I go on a nearly weekly basis. He is far better at getting things done; I err on the side of procrastination. An new perspective suddenly presents itself. We may be be alike on a number of fronts due purely to workings of coincidence. Our conflicting musical tastes might just be one of the fronts, like sports and study habits, that don’t match up.
There’s another point I must concede, and it is that his tastes are far from the worst in the world. In fact, to a wide group of people, his tastes might be considered good. In regard to our friendship, however, that sentiment is given anything but acknowledgement.
Why not? Why is such a petty issue the battleground of two frustratingly obstinate parties? Why is the story playing out like the disagreement over assumption between Hamilton and Jefferson during “Cabinet Battle #1”?(Although this time there is no secret agreement in “The Room Where It Happens.”)
Why not? Because disagreements are what friendships are meant for. They are what give life depth,
spice, zest. Without them, we would be all but the same. And as much as having a few copies of me following me around is an enticing idea, the lack of conflict would quickly result in their overstaying of their welcome.
Why do we agree to disagree? Why do I put up with his mixtapes? On the surface, the latter seems to have a straightforward answer. I do so because it’s his car. But it’s also so much more. Music as a point of contention allows us to playfully assert our individuality without fear of repercussion. I complain about his selection of CD’s; he fires back a retort about how my favorite songs come from a musical about a long-dead historical figure. The sparks that fly act as the glue that holds us together.
While at times it may strain and fray, a little tension goes a long way in strengthening friendships and building bonds deeper than than those a group full of clones will ever have. So the next time you and a friend encounter an inconsequential conflict, don’t try to avoid it. Embrace it.