Unless my favorite song really was “Track 1” by the Unknown Artists, it would be difficult to assess my musical tastes by scrolling through my iPod.
Here are some truths about me and music:
1. I’m very loyal to the songs that I like and will go months – nay years – listening to the same cds over and over and over again.
2. My musical repertoire is scattered at best – there’s no primary genre or pattern that may be discerned from an inventory of my musical library.
3. If you had a gun to my head, I would have a hard time listing off my favorite bands and/or songs. Although, come to think of it, if you had a gun to my head it would be difficult to do a great many things – like have a conversation with my grandmother, or make my bed.
4. I don’t go looking for music. I let the music come to me.
I was over at JR and Rachel’s last night, hanging out with the wonderful visiting duo, Ken and Beth. As per usual, the evening had degenerated into a debacle of movie quotations, catchphrases involving “your mom,” and singing our favorite hits from the nineties and now – well, actually just the nineties.
Here’s what I like about music. The more you listen to it, the better it gets. Unlike a book or a conversation or an adventure into the bowels of the earth, my enjoyment of a song increases as I grow more familiar with it.
This is why I always get a cold feeling in my stomach at the words, “listen to this, this is my favorite.”
Ohh the pressure to appreciate the favorites of others. No thank you. I can’t do it. I don’t usually like songs the first time that I hear them because I’m too busy trying to understand the words or hear past the pulsing repetitive bass line. Plus I don’t want to disappoint the doe-eyed distributor of said “favorite song.” So I panic and overreact:
“This song is fantastic!” I yell over the guitar solo. “Oh, I really like that line. What a great harmony there.” I say, trying to avoid their eager eye contact.
Much better to just give me a mix tape*.
Mix tapes (although I believe kids nowadays are calling them “playlists”) are the ideal way to share your music with your friends and acquaintances. Mix tapes not only provide a window into the soul of the giver, but they grant the receiver the opportunity to enjoy, process, and opine on the music in the comfort of their own car or home.
True, mix tapes are not without their “stigma.” And also true, the first one I received was in the eighth grade from Adam Oches right before he asked me to go see The Fugitive with him. It featured “A Whole New World,” if I remember correctly.
Mix tapes are stereotypically man’s way of communicating to wo-man, “I dig thee.”
This can be very effective, as the wo-man is afforded a glimpse into the world of the man (or at least the world that he’s trying to convey). In addition, she receives a gift that is the true embodiment of the thought counting at very little expense to the dude.
But I think allowing mix tapes to be relegated to pre-date wooing is an underutilization of their true and lasting value.
Share your music!** Let people enjoy the songs that you enjoy! Spread the glories of a new-found band in a low-pressure way.
Send me a mix tape. I won’t read anything into it.
* Mix tapes nowadays can be tapes (although only if you’re really broke), cds, or even electronic playlists.
**Legally, responsibly, and with a designated driver.