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Excerpted from Sit Down and Shut Up by Brad Warner. Copyright © 2007 by Brad Warner. Excerpted by permission of New World Library, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.
 

"For me, so-called angry music has never aroused feelings of real anger -- quite the opposite, in fact."

  Brad Warner,
Sit Down and Shut Up, Part 1

I got an email the other day from a guy who'd read my first book. "Can a Buddhist listen to angry-sounding music like heavy metal and hardcore punk?" he asked. "I have read that a Buddhist is supposed to let go of their anger, not suppressing or expressing it, but kind of disabling it by recognizing it. Would this mean that anger, although not to be suppressed, is something we should avoid expressing through art and music?"

The writer worries about listening to angry music. But is supposedly "angry music" really angry? In Zero Defects we used to describe our music as angry. But appearances to the contrary, the music itself actually wasn't angry at all. When we were writing it, rehearsing it, and playing it onstage, there was never any anger involved. When on occasion there was actual anger involved in our performances -- like maybe Jimi had broken all of Tommy's guitar strings again and hadn't bought replacements -- we couldn't play for shit. Jimi may have written "Drop the A-Bomb on Me" as a means of dealing with his anger at Reagan's nuclear policies. But you can't actually write a decent piece of music -- not even when it's hardcore punk -- during a fit of anger. To express what we were feeling, we had to learn how to leave our anger behind and just play.

Because there's a difference between "angry music" or "angry art" of any kind and real anger. Anger doesn't make music, not even angry music. Music comes from a completely different place.

Music should be honest, and what we were expressing in Zero Defects was our honest view of the world. That's much more important than trying to force yourself to make something you think is "happy music" when you don't actually feel very happy because you have some idea that "happy music" -- or "happy" whatever kind of art you want -- will make the world a happier place. For me, so-called angry music has never aroused feelings of real anger -- quite the opposite, in fact. I'd have been far angrier in a world where you could only hear so-called happy music. "Angry music," exposing as it did its author's truest feelings, let me know I was not alone in my own feelings of frustration. Far from making me angry, it made me feel as if there was something positive I could do with my feelings.

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