Why is it so hard to answer the question, "What kind of music do you like?" It is often asked in the first minutes of meeting someone new. Music is so personal. How do you describe your favorite music? It goes beyond genres, artists, and albums. How do you define your preferences in a few words? Revealing your likes succinctly is akin to standing naked in front of this person you've just met. It is difficult to share something so unique and so personal.
It's easier for me to say what I don't like in music. I'll listen to almost anything, except country and polka. Even here there are exceptions to the rule. I live in Wisconsin where there is a large polish community. I think it is a requirement to dance a polka at a wedding reception, at least occasionally. I can't stand the twang of country, but you can't beat Johnny Cash. I admit there are a few songs by Shania that I have to sing along with once in awhile. You can't deny her fierce attitude strung along a pop beat.
I don't listen to techno or rap or those crazy dance remixes. Unless of course I'm dancing... Dance music is a totally different article.
Pop music: the fuel to feed the masses. Due to my desire to be different, I can't like pop. When a new song comes out by a new band sometimes it does sound fresh and entertaining. Then this song catches the attention of every radio station and is played frequently. Listeners swear they will tear their ears off if they hear it one more time. The artist is doomed to "one-hit wonder-dom." Otherwise the band is pressured to conform. They sell out and sound just like everyone else.
I guess that's why first albums are my favorite. The band has pooled all their best. They have probably written for years and played in countless dive bars and hole-in-the-wall coffee shops, perfecting their craft. When that debut CD comes out it is a representation of all the band has to give, a compilation of the most raw, pure songs driven by a love, no a passion, for music. How can a future album follow that?
An artist hits the charts and soon they are too busy to write their own songs. They do what their manager tells them to do. They sell out. The money and the numbers on the billboard charts become the measure of success. The second album, produced in haste, not nearly as meaningful, sounding totally different from where they started, in a word; sucks.
This makes it hard to say which bands I like. In the past I could tell you which CDs were in current rotation in my car, but now I don't drive as much. I could've told you what Internet radio stations I listened to at work, but they are all stuck on repeat. I could tell you what is on my iPod, but I haven't changed the selection in probably a year. Can I define my tastes further by genre?
Of course this depends greatly on mood at the moment and overall current state of mental health. If I'm angry I listen to vastly different music than if I'm headed to the beach on a sunny day. I might listen to some hard indie rock or some funky ska or reggae. I even had a stage where I listened solely to 80s rock. My preferences have gotten a little cleaner and softer since I was a teenager. I've revised again in order to be a more responsible mother. I've cultured myself with classical and instrumental and I try to expose my son to a wide variety of music.
"What kind of music do you listen to?" My stock response is, "I enjoy a variety of music, but always seem to fall back on alternative." I have my tangents and plenty of exceptions, but when it comes right down to it, that's where I always go back to, the alternative rock music of the 90s. Perhaps this is somewhat a reflection of my age and when I had the largest listening opportunity. Music has such a strong reminiscent force. When everything is new, every song seems to speak to you. At that time I also had more liquid funds allocated to music and other non-essentials.
I'd like to like jazz. I just have a hard time listening to jazz without being mentally transported to an elevator or the dentist's office or put on hold, waiting for customer service to finally pick up. I think jazz has to be seen live to appreciate it. Complete with the smoky bar and listeners bopping their heads with their eyes closed. Wait, maybe that's what makes all music great...
I need live music! I need to bop my head with my eyes closed. I need a smoky bar and a guy with a guitar. He doesn't have to have an English major (actually I'd prefer that he doesn't), but he does need some original lyrics.
Is there such a thing as original lyrics anymore? Please no more remakes and no more of the same old breakup songs, seriously.