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I have read some horrible things about a singer I loved. Should I stop listening to his music?

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Question - (14 April 2019) 7 Answers - (Newest, 19 April 2019)
A female United Kingdom age 22-25, anonymous writes:

I have really enjoyed listening to this person's music ever since I was around 10 , I danced to all his songs and sung them on karaoke at weddings and bought his albums . I have a full bookshelf full of all his greatest hits . He is not alive anymore , and I cried so much when he died , it felt really horrible even though I had never met him , I felt like I literally grew up listening to his music and could not wait for his new albums releases or what fresh music he had to offer.

Just recently he has been in the news for inappropriate behaviour and it really sickened me and disgusted me beyond imagination . I now feel like I can no longer listen to his music , what shall I do ? do I get rid of them ? or is there any other way I could still enjoy the music ? as it brings back so many happy memories but now it makes me a sense of sadness and I feel guilty if I do to reach one of his cds , any advice would be appreciated .

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A male reader, Billy Bathgate United States + , writes (19 April 2019):

Richard Wagner was a virulent anti-Semite which is why he was the the Nazis favorite composer. Should orchestras and operas stop performing his works? Well yes you should because it’s crap but they don’t. Frank Sinatra and Miles Davis we’re both wife batterers. Should people stop watching Frank’s old movies or break Davis’s records and throw them out? Woody Allen groomed his teenage de facto stepdaughter for years before he married her when she was 19. No one says you shouldn’t watch his movies. Hell he still gets funding for more movies.

The idea of that you should deprive yourself of an artist you enjoy because the artist was a (fill in the blank) is absurd and a product of the insane society we now find ourselves in.

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A female reader, Xx-Scorpio-xX United Kingdom +, writes (19 April 2019):

Xx-Scorpio-xX agony auntPersonally I think you just need to learn to separate the individual personality from the art they created.

Charles Manson wrote some good music despite what he did, and i can still enjoy songs from the Lost Prophets even though their lead singer is now in prison due to some horrible things he's done.

Maybe just give it some time before you listen to their music again if it's really affected you that badly?

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A female reader, CindyCares Italy + , writes (18 April 2019):

CindyCares agony aunt Well, it's up to you, if now that you associate your favourite artist with shocking, disturbing news (...or are they just rumours ?.. ) listening to his music makes you sad , then maybe you should stop listening, why making yourself sad on purpose.

Then again, if you decide from now on to only listen to music by artists who had an unreproachable life, or look at paintings from unreproachable painters , and read books written by unreproachable writers, I am afraid your palette will be very limited and your choices restricted and not too appealing.

Talentuous people are special, and , some times they are special and exceptional for good and for bad, - they may have exceptional charisma, creativity, taste, intelligence, and most of all an uncanny capacity to give joy and gratification , through their art, to millions of people- combined with exceptional inclinations to f..k up their own and other people's lives, to yield to dark, destructive impulses, to (mis)behave in ways that defy logic and moral…

We need to learn distinguishing between the artist and the human being , and give ourselves permission to enjoy and appreciate the artistic wonders that these people have created for the happiness of so many of us , without for this having to endorse or condone abusive or criminal behaviours. Otherwise, we are in trouble : no more Beatles, for instance - all male pig chauvinists, serial cheaters and wifebeaters ( yeah, even saintly Paul ). The Stones - let's not even go there- Bill Wyman was nearly 50 and dating a 13 y.o. girl. David Bowie ? I loved Bowie, I think he is one of the most exquisite, complete, sensitive artists of his times, but , let's face it, totally a negative model , he even managed to make heroin addiction look " chic ".

Painters ? Never look at any Picasso any more, Picasso was a monster, about half of his numerous wives and girlfriends killed themselves because he was so good at messing up their head with his cruelty and abuses.

Writers ? You can't read Hemingway, even before developping mental problem he was an arrogant narcissist bastard and unredeemable alcoholist. Nabokov? Henry Miller ?

Not only their books were scandalous, but their private lives too.

And so on and so forth, there are countless cases of artists who are guilty of inappropriate behaviour in all its declinations.

If we only had to listen to " good guys " music….. I am afraid all we would be left with to listen, would be Sister Smile the Singing Nun.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (17 April 2019):

I could be wrong but It sounds like you are on about the Michael Jackson rumours.

Firstly - remember a lot of artists and musicians have skeletons in the cupboard - some are true, some not so true. What you have to do is try and separate the music from the artist - otherwise you could just go crazy thinking of everyone's faults!!

Secondly - you have to think how credible the witnesses are. These rumours came out AFTER he died and can't defend himself. The same witness said the exact opposite in the Jackson trial clearing him of any wrongdoing - so one way or another- that makes him an unreliable witness too.

It's up to you what you want to believe - we will never know the exact truth as the singer is long dead now - but just try to think of the music and not the artist behind the music if that helps.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (17 April 2019):

Keep enjoying the music. That is not about the singer, it is about the memories of your own that it brings back to you, and the good feelings that those songs bring out.

You do not have to feel guilty about liking music made by someone who did something (or many things) very bad. The things they did in their personal life are separate from the talent and creation they made the songs with. All people have good and evil inside. Just think of enjoying the music as honoring the good side and the good stuff it brings out in you too.

Hope this helps,


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A female reader, Honeypie United States + , writes (16 April 2019):

Honeypie agony auntOP,

There are plenty of famous people are or were pieces of shit people. (plenty of NOT famous people too!)

Being famous doesn't mean you are a good person.

Talent doesn't equate to being a decent human being.

Can you separate the art from the artist? I think you can, but it's really up to you.

There are some actors I WILL NOT watch due to their personal "antics" and some musicians who's albums I'd NEVER spend a dime on, but maybe because I'm older I don't really PRESUME that being famous means that they are as good as their "characters" or as I WANT them to be.

If you don't feel like OWNING his stuff anymore, donate it to a second hand store, sell them, give them away or trash them... OR put them away for later in life.

Not listening any more to their music won't change what their did or HOW their music made you feel. YOU ARE NOT responsible for someone famous' actions.

ONLY your own.

DO what feels right and makes sense.

Personally, I'd enjoy the music and accept that the person who made this was a piece of crap. It happens.

Author of Lord of the Flies, William Golding was supposedly known to have attempted to pare a 15 year old (when he was an adult and his private journal confirms it)

Author of The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger

was a pedophile, and adulterer.

(always hated his book though...)

Author Charles Dickens (LOVE LOVE his books)

Was a total DICK to his wife. She more him 8 or 10 kids and he cheated on her with a teenager... And then wrote about her in the most malign manner later on.

Virginia Woolf, author, was a twat. And she was also a classist, and anti-Semite. She believed poor people shouldn't have an education... after all why would they need one? Yeah, bit of a cow... but she was GOOD with words.

Elvis Presley who was 24 at the time started dating Pricilla who was 14! I mean JEEEEZ! He still had a HUGE following of adoring fans, especially women. What a CREEP.

A drunk Johnny Cash started a wildfire in a National park that killed MOST of the endangered California Condor Vultures. And he was a TERRIBLE husband and father to his first wife (and probably to June too) What an ass, but I still enjoy some of his songs.

Charlie Chaplin knocked up a 16 year old girl when he was 30, then dated a 15 year old girl after that. However, even if that is just SUPER gross, predatory and creepy he was still groundbreakingly talented and funny.

I could go on.

Don't go looking for all the darkness in life. Just like bad things can happen to good people... Good things (such as talent) can happy to shitty people.

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A female reader, mystiquek Japan + , writes (16 April 2019):

mystiquek agony auntI am not sure which singer you are referring to but I can tell you that I have the same feelings about MJ. He was just a few years older than me and I watched and listened to his music since he was very little. I get a pang in my heart now every time I hear his songs and feel guilty because I still enjoy listening to some of his stuff. Its really hard to ignore all the things swirling around him and honestly very hard to deny what has come out about him. It makes me sick and sad to think someone so talented had such a dark side to him and did some really perverted things. I no longer listen to his music but I also don't turn it off if a song comes on. I just try to separate his talent from what he probably was in real life. Some of the biggest stars were actually very horrible people in real life. Only you can choose if you wish to continue to this singer's music.

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