One thing I’ve found increasingly difficult to do is to give a new acquaintance a quick rundown of the kind of music I listen to.
How do you gather up years of cranking stereos till your parents yell, mosh-pitting with thousands of jubilant kids, playing guitar alone in a dark room with a beer, paying $25 for another t-shirt, hearing the first new song in three years from that band you love and playing it every night for two months…. ?
It usually goes something like, “Hah.. um...”
(The initial laugh gives it away – one of us is in trouble: either you’re about to get a story or three about music or I’m not going to feel like you completely understand what I’m trying to wedge into your brain. I could just list my favorite bands, but there are too many in constant flux.)
“Well I like to play the blues. ..Guitar. And rock. Uh, well, like indie.. Kinda like funky, energetic, stuff. Or it can be folksy. But classic rock too, like Doors, not like just ROCK rock. It can be dancy, you know like Yello? Yello…? That song from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? And jazz and classical. I played cello. No country.”
The “no country” part is pretty key. I’ve found plenty of musicians who simply answer with “Anything but country.” But even that is misleading. I do enjoy bluegrass and have nothing against your standard Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson or south or western-style-rock (which you’ll sometimes find bands like Rilo Kiley labeled as due to the mere presence of a slide-guitar on one song).
What I (and most sound music listeners) detest are the cowboy-hat wavin’, terrr-ist-fightin’, first-class-flyin “cowboys” who record standard pop tracks some call “country” because they drawl louder to indicate the chorus.
But that aside…
The problem is that I have too many feelings on the subject to simply say “open-minded,” because that indicates that I don’t care.
L. and I bonded right away, 12 years ago, because of our shared obsession with music. What if I had just said, “Oh, I dig everything,” and left it at that? What if she had not recommended a few bands after I confessed that I had still not gotten over 311’s blue album?
Lately, if asked, I’ve taken to answering the question by listing whatever I listened to in the past week, new or old – “Um, Portugal. The Man is kinda obsessive on my list, LCD Soundsystem and lots of Bela Fleck or Euforquestra while I write.”
Another route is what I’ve been jamming on guitar: “I tend to play a lot of blues still. Have been trying to cover a few Portugal. The Man songs, the Beastie Boys and some old Beck standards.”
Either one is a good enough round-up.
Because I never stop being obsessed.