This may seem like an obvious point to make, but I like music. A recent discussion with a friend made me wonder, though, just what it is about music that I like, and it’s not as simple as “it’s got a good beat and you can dance to it.”
First, to quote C. Montgomery “Monty” Burns, “I know what I hate.” I’d rather pull a da Vinci (twice) than listen to most hip-hop, country (particularly “new” country, whatever that means), hardcore “metal” rock, and Celine Dion.
For any- and everything else, tune me in. I’ve got a particular predilection towards somewhat quirky (I like to say “unique”) acts; some that come to mind immediately are Lenni Jabour, who plays “cabaret pop” with her band The Third Floor; Moxy Früvous and Barenaked Ladies, who made their names in Canada writing witty, satirical songs; Sirens, “a cross between the Andrews Sisters and Manhattan Transfer with acoustic guitars”; and Ken Nordine, the creator and master of “word jazz”.
The list above may suggest a certain national bias—everyone except Ken Nordine is Canadian—and that’s certainly a factor. I like Canadian music, which is why I’ve hardly tuned my radio away from CBC in the past 15 years.
And I’m willing to admit that I’m a sucker for a pretty face (but not to the exclusion of talent): Emm Gryner (who I also attended high school with), Sheryl Crow, Dayna Manning, Melanie Doane, the aforementioned Lenni Jabour, and too many more to list.
And then there’s jazz… and folk… and world music… and all of the other nebulous genres that people use to define musicians and groups. Continuing what’s becoming a pattern of lists with an eclectic set of people: Loreena McKennitt, whose “Celtic” music traces the history of the Celts back across Europe, Africa and Asia; “Weird Al” Yankovic, the king of musical parodists (and not a bad songwriter in his own right, either); Peter Gabriel, Genesis, the Police, and others about who nothing more needs be said; Paris Combo and Pink Martini and Quartetto Gelato, who all perform ensemble work that makes me think of cafés in France; Stan Rogers and Stompin’ Tom Connors, two singers who have written some of the most uniquely Canadian songs there have ever been; Spirit of the West and Gowan, two acts that I’ll travel long distances to see; and so many more than I have space or time to list.
And still none of that answers the question of what it is about music that I enjoy. There’s no common thread or quality; it’s not about a particular instrument, voice, style, or experience, and it’s not music selection, or lyrics, or technical skill, although they all play a part. I’m going to need to think about this some more.
Continue reading Let’s try this again…