“music is none of my business”
do they call them albums anymore?
anyways it occurred to me that many folks tend to mostly listen to the music that was popular or around them at the time they came of age. it’s like you some of us get musically branded: these were the groups, the songs, the attitude that i identified with when i was 16, 0r 19. for some people they glom on to a later date – 23, 25 even. perhaps this is because some people don’t come of age till later.
this is just a theory.
another set of people are always ‘current’. this is because they are lifelong FM radio listeners. they might be exposed to it at work, and most certainly in the car – places they are almost hostage to whatever comes on. you hear it enough and you think you like it. and if people are ‘talking’ about this or that artist, the average person thinks there must be something to it and they will surely listen to it, too. this seems no better as far as variety goes. given the increasingly corporate nature of radio stations (and music media, too) in the last 25 years, no matter where you are in the country, you are likely to hear the same narrow berth of stuff in sparingly few styles. it’s the most broad, simple stuff.
and although i know i don’t fall into the radio crowd, in fact i’ve never listened to FM radio in my life, i may be a bit of a victim of the first camp of music listeners.
there’s also a newer set of music listeners to emerge lately. they find things on the internet. sometimes it’s through a service, like pandora, which takes music you tell it you like, and basically serves you up more of the same in slightly different dressing. but others find a song they like on youtube, and from there find another link and another until eventually, they are onto something totally unheard of before and random. this is interesting. the only thing i wonder about is how and why are we being offered the choices we are? who decides what to allow us to pick from? but still, i think this development is quite promising.
i know a lot about the history of music. i grew up playing music from about age 12 and got into vintage music that i was trying to learn: vintage jazz like the fletcher henderson orchestra, anything i could find with coleman hawkins playing sax, louis armstrong as a young player and king oliver – things like that. eventually i made my way up to dizzy gillespie and charlie parker and i basically settled on them. in fact, when i still play sax or trumpet, it is essentially a poor imitation of those two guys. i spent 100s of hours playing along to their records at a slower speed until i could figure out the notes they were playing. it was a source of contention in my house and with our neighbors for a while at one point.
as far as other music went, i found stuff that was current, but sometimes a little obscure. my friends and i were into metallica, though i never listened to them alone. instead it was bad brains, they might be giants, dead kennedys, nirvana, 10,000 maniacs, bad religion, minor threat and things like that. i don’t think i was a punk rock kid. i didn’t dress any differently than i do now. i was never into looking like a punk or even a skateboarder, which i was then and still am. i say not purely punk, because i thought a lot of punk music was really just bad ideas combined with bad music. but when i found something that seemed to combine good ideas and excellent musicianship i was usually on board.
thinking back, the only group i listen to now that i listened to then is they might be giants, and that’s mainly because they are still making new music. i rarely listen to the music they did back then that turned me on so much. the title of this blog is from a they might be giants song, actually. you can hear it here.
lately the stuff i listen to now is stuff that was also around when i was a kid that i wasn’t that interested in at the time. they’re people who are mostly still creating music: elvis costello, tom petty, bob dylan, johnny cash and even george jones. i knew a lot of their songs just from them being around when i was growing up, and i appreciated them but never sought them out. lately i seem to gravitate to them. as i type out that list, i think ‘that doesn’t sound like what i like’ but i just looked on my phone and those are the people i listen to the most. maybe that’s because they happen to be on my phone. maybe that also is a big factor in what people think they like: it’s what i’ve got handy.
so, i thought ‘why not try something?’ i am a collector of digital files. i have 1000s of films, 100s of the full runs of tv shows, and more songs by at least 500 artists than i can count. so i thought: make an experiment of it. listen to a different album a day from some random artist.
i wonder: where do musical preferences come from? do they spring from what you are hearing when you become ‘aware’ of yourself, normally in your teens? is it influenced by stuff you heard when you were tiny and had no choice? or is it something more inate? it seems people’s reactions to music is often immediate. ‘YES, i like this’ or ‘NO, i hate that’. i see that in myself. often i can change my mind but for the most part my immediate reaction to new music takes, and that’s that. anyways – exploring that and trying to get more to the nature of the why of musical preference is another part of it.
so, for the first couple weeks i’m going to let my phone dictate it. because my phone has a huge hard drive on it, i’ve dumped various odd things on it over the past year anticipating down time on road trips, long days alone at work, etc. but i just never got to the music. so i’m going to start doing this. i started yesterday, in fact. i’ll make a new post for the more interesting stuff, as i hear it.
any musical suggestions are welcome.
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