When we got Alexa, we also signed up for Amazon Music. I spent a couple of days creating a playlist of artists I like to listen to. It is pretty Neko Case and Josh Ritter heavy right now. I am really terrible at remembering band names and who sang what. I have thrown in old favorites like Sting and Morrissey, as well as newer favorites like Arcade Fire and My Morning Jacket (Jim James has made my list of guys who have hair that I want to run my fingers through. I can see a whole photographic series of my fingers tangled in famous hair). My playlist is odd. Just the way I like it.
I remember being very disappointed in my musical choices on the radio during my teenage years because I didn't listen to mainstream music. I wasn't a snob about it. I just preferred bands that didn't get a lot of radio time because they were different and obscure. There was a college station I could barely pick up on the radio. They had an alternative music show that aired on Friday nights at midnight. I would set my double tape deck to record the show and then play the tapes over and over. As an adult, I just listened to NPR all the time with the exception of the brief years of The Spy, an alternative radio station out of Stillwater. It always made me wonder how it was that a band like the Flaming Lips could be born (and reside) in a state that doesn't listen to them. Internet radio came along and changed everything. I now have access to the artists of my youth as well as new sounds in alternative music.
I tend to get caught up with one artist at a time. I remember buying a new album from someone and listening to it over and over. At that time, in this moment, it was the only music I wanted to hear. I am known to do the same thing with food. Ask my mother about poached eggs every day for a month. I fixate. Recently, I was fixated on the National and Michael hated them. Hated them. If we were in the car and one of their songs would come on, he'd turn it or make fun of it. Michael and I don't share the same taste in music. His playlist is old country and folk and 1980. I pulled the National from our joint playlist and soak them up when I'm on my own. Matt Berninger's deep voice hits me somewhere near my breast bone and I am reminded of sulky teenage moments. If I had heard his voice as a teenager, I would have spent my days imagining that his voice was indicative to his love making skills. Matt Berninger is the guy I would have followed around from gig to gig in hopes that he would notice me. Really notice me.
I switch back and forth between stations recommended to me because of my recent music choices and the playlist I am creating on my own. The recommended stations are a nice because they introduce me to something new or remind me of artists forgotten. Just the other day I remembered to add some R.E.M. to my playlist. I remember having my first fairly grown up conversation with my brother over the song Losing My Religion. R.E.M.'s music always made me feel like I should be trying harder for something good like the environment and human rights. Beautiful and at time haunting, their music made me feel all things. I added them to my playlist and then started to wonder why they're not still around. What ever happened to Michael Stipe? He's got a really long beard now, does sculpture art, and still dabbles in music.
If you're curious.
The Cabbage is all the time asking me what kind of music I listen to and I am always at a loss for words. She doesn't understand what alternative means. Occasionally I will point out a song and an artist and tell her "this? this is important. pay attention." I'll turn up the radio and start car dancing and singing, to which she rolls her eyes. If she learns anything from me, hopefully she learns that the unconventional is cool and that sometimes you have to listen outside the radio.