Greetings. My name's Ned Raggett and I like to talk about music a lot, and have done so in some form online and off for over twenty years or so. Last month I published a few things as per usual, but the most popular piece under my name had none of my words. It was a snippet from Björk's interview with Jessica Hopper for Pitchfork, singled out and shared by another female writer, Sasha Geffen.

One of many direct, impassioned moments from the famed Icelandic musician in the piece, she noted how a male artist like Kanye West can get constant credit for being a singular auteur despite working with numerous collaborators, while her own many collaborations often saw journalists and critics assuming that the musical creativity and creation lay with said collaborators rather than her. I singled out this passage, put it on my Tumblr page with due credits and suddenly saw it explode into popularity -- nothing earth-shattering but at thousands of hits and reblogs, much more than anything I had done lately. As I type it's still making the rounds, averaging about a hundred or so likes and shares a day, a steady performer in the non-monetized social media economy.

I had been tempted to add some thoughts of my own to the quote before posting it, but refrained. It felt unnecessary, almost pointless -- anything I would have had to say, however well-meaning and intentioned, seemed like it would simply have called attention to myself rather than to the point being made. As the quote was reblogged, I was interested to see others, especially female writers and musicians, add their own thoughts as they chose -- I'm sure I didn't catch them all, but I saw enough to see some small discussions begin, parallel examples and further moments of experience on the part of these creators themselves, nowhere near as famous but facing the exact same issues. It was all something to take in and consider, a further reminder to myself -- not that this had all happened just so I could learn a lesson. And that was important too -- acting as if it's the job of women (or anyone not like myself) to educate me is a poor approach to engaging with life and its problems and struggles. You have to be open, conscious and aware to start with, to take in things and consider them as they are, as they are conveyed, to then be able to react openly if you choose but at the least to not ignore them.

Which sounds glib, perhaps -- but is that not the role of a music critic, to do just that? Do you prejudge a sound, do you insist an artist 'work' for you to become legitimate in your eyes? Or do you take them at face value, not pretending to know anything, not fooling yourself you can stand completely in their shoes, whoever they might be? Such an ideal state may not always be achievable -- time changes a person, reduces or refocuses interests, introduces new responsibilities and cares, and this applies to all, or to those who are fortunate enough to actively care about music in a way that doesn't impede much more basic concerns, of life, survival, the day to day. That's a happy state not many necessarily have -- and that's something to remind yourself of as well, maybe not all the time, but more often that not. And that's your responsibility if you're that lucky to remind yourself -- not somebody else's.

"I have increasingly and consciously been encouraging people to read the many words, thoughts, experiences of others, to not ignore the obvious, or to understand more about other frames and scopes."

What a critic -- not just a critic, a person, a member of the species -- needs to do is keep learning when possible, keep taking things in, keep one's ears and eyes and minds open, and to acknowledge errors and mistakes when discovered, either through your own work or when someone brings them to your attention. But this is a key thing Björk was trying to point out, one of many, in her interview and in that segment -- some need to do that more than others, and some need to act on that more than others. Some need to report more accurately, research more thoroughly, take more care with assertions and conclusions -- and again, it's not that she had a lesson to teach so others can be enlightened, because some didn't need the lesson at all. When you have at least half the human species, at least as represented on my feed and my reblogs, all openly agreeing and approving, it's pretty clear who needs to do better in their own rights, in general.

In what I hope will be the months to come, I'd like to use this semi-regular space here on the 405 -- and much thanks to editor Oliver Primus for agreeing to the initial pitch, almost sight unseen! -- for monthly thoughts on both a current music story of interest and how it can reflect wider concerns, and remind us that often a full picture isn't being given or can't be given. It may not always be so serious and I have no intention of following a strict program -- it may be a gentler rumination on a recently passed figure, as too sadly but inevitably happens, or it could be a wider reflection on something not necessarily newsworthy as some would call it, but still of note.

Yet having said that I'll be writing more, what I hope others might take away from this month's reflection is the value, simply, of silence when subjects are brought up for consideration. One thing I consider myself grateful to consider is that having been raised in a world and social context where I've been encouraged to 'speak up,' and -- precisely because I am who I am, a white straight dude in a society built for me in general -- have been rewarded for it, I have increasingly and consciously been encouraging people to read the many words, thoughts, experiences of others, to not ignore the obvious, or to understand more about other frames and scopes. Too many deny this, whether screaming in puling vitriol or putting their whining in a highbrow context. They deserve what they get in response. But it's nobody's job to teach them better. It's up to them to realize they never did have all the answers to start with -- even if they thought that all Björk ever did was simply sing into a microphone.

Ned Raggett writes for the likes of The Quietus, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone and Red Bull Music Academy. You can find him over on Twitter.