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MAYBE IT'S THE THOUGHT OF NOT BEING ALONE (Ruminations on Hobo Johnson; Saltiness).

Andrew West

I like that 'salty' is a cool adjective now because it feels like a warm way for me to own the fact that I have been, or can be, or sometimes am; bitter, petty, jealous, (flavorful?). I don't love this about myself (I swear), but I'll probably always be a little salty. I sincerely hope I'm less salty now than I was in the past.

I reached maximum saltiness at whatever point in high school I first started to think I was a  'good' writer/musician. Because I thought that I was good, I felt like I could decide what was not good. A song could suck because it had only 4 chords, or because it had vague/not clear/specific images/lyrics. Or because it had electronic drums in it. Or because it was about a cliche topic. At peak saltiness, I could be salty about nearly any song for any reason. It's not really worth noting that I am/was not the only musician who did/does this. It can be pretty accurate to joke that you can spot the musicians at your gig because they're standing in the back of the room with their arms crossed.

At the least, I was once that guy. A friend of mine recently told me that years ago he played a gig and someone stood right at the front of the stage and flipped him off for an extended period of time. I literally worried that I was the guy that did that. I don't remember ever doing that, but it's not something that 15 year old me, at peak saltiness, would not do.

Saltiness is very small though. It's true that Hobo Johnson's song "Peach Scone" is guilty of the arbitrary things that I listed above; but that doesn't actually make it a bad song. I read a lot of comments on that video, and it seems like it made a lot of people happy. That almost certainly makes it a good song. (#shamelessplug: I currently really like shitty electronic drum sounds).

Having gone down a little bit of a rabbit hole and watched more Hobo Johnson, he really does have a little bit of an indiscernible something that makes him appealing. And even though he reminds me a lot of a rambly brand of emo music that I never particularly cared for, it's fun to watch a group of friends yell in a back yard. It's tingly to watch an average looking brown haired guy make faces like he really believes what he's saying.

I reserve the right to have irrational anger at one song per year, but my mom said to me "do all things as unto the Lord." And even though she meant something very specific when she said that, I've thought a lot about what she said, and she's so right. There's no reason to do music if you're not doing it for something bigger than yourself.

When I am salty, I am thinking maybe entirely of myself. And probably people enjoy Hobo Johnson because he seems to be thinking of something else (maybe not being so alone).