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Why did the author choose a continuous form?

Kim would always encourage me to wear baseball hats when we played because she said it made me look a heavy metal drummer, and since we weren't playing heavy metal that made it cool.

Richard Edson Extract from liner notes for the reissue of Sonic Youth first album

Why was the continuous "were not playing" used instead of not played as Sonic Youth (the band) never played heavy metal so "played" would have been better than weren't playing.
Does “when we played” mean “we were not playing”?

2 Answers 2

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The past continuous is probably used to mean:

and since we weren't playing heavy metal [while we were wearing the hats (and playing a different kind of music)] that made it cool.

So it is used to show simultaneity of the two actions.

Edit: The past tense can be used to refer to repeated or regular events in the past, and in your sentence we played is used in that way:

Kim would always encourage me to wear baseball hats when [every time] we played...

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  • in this case why past simple for the first play , both verbs should convey the same meaning
    – Yves Lefol
    Aug 8, 2021 at 10:42
  • I have edited my answer.
    – fev
    Aug 8, 2021 at 11:30
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Kim would always encourage me to wear baseball hats when we played because she said it made me look a heavy metal drummer,…

We know that Kim advised the musician to wear baseball caps at concerts because he looked cool wearing them.

…and since we weren't playing heavy metal that made it cool.

The simple past form didn't play also works.

…and since we didn't play heavy metal that made it cool.

But the past continuous negative form is used to add a note of contrast to the previous verbs in the simple past and to emphasise that something was not in progress at a specific moment in the past.

(because) we weren't playing heavy metal [at the time]…

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  • but what surprises me is that weren't playing gives the impression that later they would change their style into heavy metal. It was not the case . They never played heavy metal . it was a permanent thing not a progressive thing.
    – Yves Lefol
    Aug 8, 2021 at 12:13
  • @user5577 you make a smart observation, and it could have that meaning if later in the article it tells us that the group changed genre. But without that further detail then we are left with the assumption the speaker is saying at that time they were playing a different kind of music from heavy metal.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 8, 2021 at 12:39
  • @user5577 note that it's unusual to talk about baseball hats, it's usually called a baseball cap, did you copy the extract word for word? Do you have a link o the source, please?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 8, 2021 at 12:41
  • I checked and it is written baseball hats . The only link I have is the one I wrote
    – Yves Lefol
    Aug 8, 2021 at 12:46

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