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Get to Know your Fellow D.B.Oer | Music (DBO)

by Kermit @, Raleigh, NC, Monday, April 09, 2018, 12:21 (1590 days ago) @ Claude Errera

What do you look for in music? What is musics purpose for you?


Music used to define the timing of my life; I could tell you when an album came out by what I was doing when it was released. Sometimes to the day. (That's changed; I still listen to a lot of music, and it's an important mood stabilizer... but I no longer keep track of life events that way.)

I look for music that says something to me. It can be something as simple as "hey, tap your foot to me!" or as complicated as "this is a concept that you should think about every time you make a major decision." In recent years, that comes down to predominately 'singer-songwriters' - a category that is often folk or indie. (Or indie folk.)

How has your taste for music changed, if they have, through the years and what do you think caused this/these change(s)?


This is a pretty tough question to answer - partly because the world has changed, and the way I consume music changed with it... and it's hard to untie the method of consumption with the product itself. When I was a kid, the primary way of finding new music was the radio - I listened to a lot of popular music in high school, because that was the easiest thing to hear. I got to college, and discovering new bands became an obsession; I fell in love with the alternative/indie sound that you could find in small clubs. The message became more important (for a while) than the sound - clever lyrics trumped polished instrumentation. (I mean, eventually, I found bands that had both... but when you're listening to 3 new bands a night, you hear a lot of shit, and you quickly find something that hooks you and keeps you coming back, or you stop going to clubs. For me, the hook was a good lyric.)

All that said... there's no 'one band' (or 'ten bands') that define my musical taste; I listen to (and have always listened to) lots and lots of different things. There aren't too many things off-limits... I'm not a huge fan of metal, or hip-hop, or (true) country, but almost anything else goes. (And even in those genres, there are exceptions.)

When I was in the 'write your favorite band on your notebook' phase, I was a big fan of the Eagles... but I'm not sure if that's because I loved their music, or if I just loved their logo. (I definitely like their music; I just don't know if that's what drove me to brand my notebooks with their name.)

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Also listened to a lot of the Moody Blues, but without the hallucinogenics.

In college, I listened to a lot of REM, Talking Heads, The Housemartins, Thomas Dolby, Howard Jones, Tears for Fears, The Specials, Fine Young Cannibals, English Beat, The Jam... and tons and tons of bands that nobody outside of Somerville MA had ever heard of (and then only if you were alive and listening to music in the early 80s). Also, mostly due to a roommate, I listened to (and liked) a bunch of early rap - Grand Master Flash, Run DMC, Beasty Boys. Lost interest when the subject matter changed to money, drugs, and sex.

When I joined the Peace Corps, I started listening to more political/socially aware artists - Bruce Cockburn, Michelle Shocked, Indigo Girls, Beautiful South (though I'm told that in the UK, they're not really considered political, they're considered 'Poppy' - I listened to them because Beautiful South is what Paul Heaton did when the Housemartins broke up; I fell in love with the weirdness of "Woman in the Wall", and I really liked their cynical look at the world). I stuck with all of them after I got back to the US.

Hothouse Flowers' 'People' was my favorite album of 1988, in a way that no album has ever been before or since. (I don't really even listen to it any more, but MAN was I obsessed then!)

The 90s and 00s saw infatuations with Garland Jeffries, The Frames, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jack Johnson, John Gorka, Jonathan Coulton, the Proclaimers, Suzanne Vega, Uncle Bonsai (and the Electric Bonsai Band), many more.

Through it all, some bands have always been there, their music interwoven with the threads of my life: The Beatles, Barenaked Ladies, Billy Joel, BoDeans, David Bowie, Dire Straits (and Mark Knopfler solo after they broke up), Elvis Costello, Neil Young, Pink Floyd, the Police, the Pretenders, Queen, Randy Newman, Rickie Lee Jones, Simon and Garfunkel, Steely Dan, Supertramp, the Who, Warren Zevon.

I love bands whose lyrics and music tell totally different stories: for example, Nelly McKay writes biting, sarcastic, often dark lyrics to super-bouncy (or elegantly-smooth) music. Sometimes I find bands who irritate the hell out of me, until they don't - I first heard Jonatha Brooke on a compilation album, and HATED her voice. But I loved the album, and so I heard that song a lot... and eventually I went and found other stuff she'd done. I love her band The Story. I love her solo stuff. She still has a super-distinctive singing style, and when I hear other people do that voice-cracking thing, it's like fingernails on a chalkboard... but I still love it when she does it.

I like novelty stuff. I listened to Doctor Demento when I was growing up, and I've enjoyed Weird Al since... geez, probably 1980. I already mentioned Jonathan Coulton. Paul and Storm make me laugh. Mojo Nixon has a place in my collection. (A few places, even.)

David Wilcox is a folk singer-songwriter that I first heard in early 1991... I discovered that his songs are chock-full of ideas that sort of guide the way I live. (I'm not saying I live that way because he told me to; I'm saying I have some underlying guiding principles, and his music does an amazing job of outlining them, which means he has the same underlying guiding principles.)

Most recent discovery was Nico Vega (I heard a song of theirs in a Verizon ad, loved it, looked up who did it, discovered that I like MOST of their stuff).

That probably covers 10% of the music that's shaped me. ;) (Okay, more than 10%... but there are literally hundreds of unmentioned artists that should be on a list of music that has affected my life.)

Bonus Question: Have you ever played an instrument? If so do you still play? Are or were you any good? Is there anything you've thought about playing?


Played a clarinet for a year in grade school, until I had a pretty bad accident and knocked out all of my front teeth; a reed instrument suddenly became quite difficult, and I quit. Tried learning guitar in the Peace Corps, mostly failed. (I mean, I learned a few chords, but it wasn't even good enough to keep people around a campfire entertained.)

We've had very similar journeys. I like a lot of what you like. That U2 show I mentioned--Grand Master Flash opened up for them, and they were great. Seems like that kind of thing was more common then. Maybe I'm wrong. Didn't lose my front teeth, but attending a high school where marching band was the THING put at end to clarinet playing. I don't march, and I got tired of sitting in an empty practice room during football season.


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