songs in my blood

“i know i’ll never be lonely. i’ve got songs in my blood.” so say noah and the whale on their album the first days of spring. i like this lyric because most of the time there is a song playing in my head, at least, if i’m not whistling, humming or singing it aloud.

but what draws us to music? what factors determine the music we kinda sorta like (we might say ‘it’s okay …’ gosh, how i hate when that happens in conversation), the music we dismiss as so last year, the music that gets our gag reflex going, or the music we come back to again and again, no matter how unpopular (or popular) it’s gotten?

music is a consuming passion for so many people these days. so how do we decide what to listen to?

for me, when it comes to new music, i just sort of stumble onto artists or albums. i like to browse amazon’s indie music section to see what’s up. i do not read paste (usually), scour music blogs or go to concerts, so mostly any music trend i become a part of is purely by accident.

and, since i’ve never heard of most of the groups listed, i check out albums based on cover art or cleverness of band/album name. if the artwork or the names creep me out, i will not listen to the music. period. (i know, that’s weird.) sometimes the cool people i know who actually read paste, scour music blogs and go to concerts give me music suggestions, which i may or may not follow up on, based on whether or not i remember. i also browse through the cds at my library, which can turn up some fun, odd entries (ben folds songs a cappella, anyone?). and then i sometimes listen to the radio … 96.5 0r 93.3 in kansas city for indie/pop music, or 91.5 (the lawrence npr station) for jazz, weird retro tunes and bluegrass/folk/whatever else they throw on the spinner.

i was trained in classical piano for 14 years, so i also love select composers/works i’m familiar with from endless recitals, music education and kansas city friends of chamber music concerts. admittedly there’s a lot still in this category to explore, but i’ve expanded in the last few years to include opera and ancient music. new can be good, but old’s often better, i’ve found.

which category can include old pop music. my parents are baby boomers and grew up in the great musical decades of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, so some of those have been ingrained in my musical psyche (where have all the flowers gone?). we also love classic movies from the ’30s and ’40s, and i enjoy swing dancing, so i also have soft spots for ella fitzgerald, billie holiday, louie armstrong and frank sinatra, just to name a few.

then there are those songs/albums/artists i never get tired of. sean watkins and nickel creek are the best examples. anything by nickel creek is shockingly well done, fun to listen to, and pretty much clean. they’re all broken up and have separate/intersecting projects now, but sean watkins is my favorite by far of the three. i think i’d acquire just about anything he was a part of musically (unless i really, really disliked it for some reason). nickel creek were recommended to me by several friends when i was 15-16. i finally checked them out and was glad i did (ben folds and bjork, into which i also made forays at the time, did not fare so well). a lot of memories are now associated with these songs.

Christian/’church’ music is an entirely different category that requires its own discussion (and it’s a topic i have thoughts on and would like feedback on, too, so i’ll get to it eventually), so i won’t tackle it here. but in the future.

so that’s a little on how i decide what music to listen to. it’s garbled and random, i know. how do you decide what to listen to? how do you decide what music you like, and what music you love?