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Free your mind

“I Listen to Everything”

When I first meet people I make every attempt to discover their taste in music.  More often than not, the conversation goes like this:

Me: What kind of music do you listen to?

Them: Oh, I listen to everything.

At about this point I internally roll my eyes and prevent my hands from forming fists.  I get a sudden urge to hit something.  I absolutely detest this answer because it’s simply untrue.  The worst part is the person saying it doesn’t realize their own untruth.  “I listen to everything.”  Bullshit.  No one listens to everything.  What people really mean is: “I listen to everything I listen to.”

Music diversity is only determined by one’s exposure.  So listening to everything is a way for the individual to give themselves props for listening to a little of everything to which they’ve been exposed… and, even then, this may not be the case.

When I hear the “listen to everything” answer, I appease my rising anger by proving this answer wrong.  My line of questioning sharpens.

Me: Really?  Do you listen to classical?  How about opera?  Do you partake of the polka?  How about Native American or Buddhist chants?  Ancient Chinese folk music?  American folk songs?  What about atonal music like John Cage or George Crumb?  Bollywood soundtracks, anyone?

I invariably lose people with opera, and then usually they offer some examples of what they really listen to.  Basically they let me know what’s on their iPod.

Now I realize proving someone wrong may be a dickish move, especially to someone you’ve just met.  However, I don’t really feel like I’ve met someone until I have a feeling of the music they enjoy.

A person’s listening taste reveals more about that person than a 2 hour dinner conversation ever could.  What is your image of someone who listens to Britney, Justin, and Mariah?  Contrast that with someone who listens to Beethoven, Bach, and Debussy.  What do you think someone who listens to Floyd, Zeppelin, and Zappa does late at night?   (On a side note, the people I tend to write off immediately are those that listen exclusively to “Indie Music.”  Ugh.  I’d rather share the company of someone who enjoys the vacuous vapid existence of Britney over the self-importance pretention of a wide-eyed twenty-something “Singer Songwriter.”)

Most of us feel music more than we listen to it; that is, we can’t really rationalize why we like some music over another.  We experience music on a carnal instinctive level.  Music moves our soul.  And because we listen with our soul, understanding a person’s music taste helps us understand that person.  It provides a glimpse to what moves them.  We begin to sense their aesthetic sensibilities.  We immediately realize some commonalities and differences to help shape our future interactions with this person.

Music helps us understand each other.  It helps us understand ourselves.  When someone asks you what kind of music you listen to, give them a real answer.  It’s an easy and comfortable way to reveal some depth.

What kind of music do I listen to, you ask?

Me: I listen to everything except for polka, hardcore rap, and most new country.