I'm an aspiring musician and have created some original music of my own. Could you please listen to some of my songs and tell me what you think of them?

On a number of occasions I've received requests from aspiring musicians who have recorded their own original music, often in a somewhat PSB-ish style, to listen to their songs and provide my "analysis" or "assessment." I've always been quite uncomfortable about this. Solicited input of this sort is inherently tainted. Please put yourself in my shoes. What if I listen to your music and I genuinely think that it's not very good? It would be honest of me—but not very nice—to tell you what I truly think. So I'm torn between my desires to be honest on the one hand and on the other to be pleasant and supportive of aspiring artists. I don't like being forced to make that choice.

I also know from painful personal experience that aspiring artists sometimes react in a highly defensive manner to disinterested criticism of their work*—even if they themselves solicited that criticism. In short, if you aren't going to graciously accept critique, then please don't ask for it. Since I cannot predict how anyone will react to what I say, I've chosen not to be placed in that position anymore. Henceforth I will politely decline any such requests.


*Back in 1994, shortly after the publication of my book Rock on the Wild Side, I received a surprise phone call from one of the artists about whom I had written, complaining about what I had said about him and his music. Needless to say, it made me extremely uncomfortable—and pissed me off big-time.