Every few weeks I remember that Pandora exists. And so I spend the entire day listening to songs related by musical heritage to the White Stripes, Ben Harper, Daft Punk, Girl Talk, Aimee Mann, whoever I can of. I’m discovering new artists this way, which is the point of Pandora, and it’s made me think: I was not born with whatever gene makes you love music. Music always seemed cryptic, someone else always had more opinions about it, loved it more deeply and truly, knew what was Good and not Sell-Out music. I felt lost.
I remember these things:
My dad sung “Hey Jude” to me as a lullabye, and we danced endlessly to the Beach Boys’ Christmas album, Michael Jackson’s Thriller and a copy of a Paula Abdul tape that my uncle made for my dad. The first tape I bought with my own money was by Moxy Fruvous, a tape I listened to first in the shower and then after school, every day, until I memorized it. I got a summer job at a grocery store, which paid minimum wage minus hundreds of dollars in union dues, and could wrangle enough money for some music. My first CDs were: The Mighty Mighty Bosstones’s album with their one huge radio hit on it — because it made me want to jump around, a Goo Goo Dolls CD that had “Name” on it, Beck’s Odelay because it sounded unlike anything I’d ever heard, REM’s Automatic for the People because I loved “Nightswimming”, the Blues Traveler CD with “Run Around” on it, and Barenaked Ladies’ Born on a Pirate Ship, because I heard they were a must for anyone living near the Canadian border.
I remember these CDs because I couldn’t figure them out… I read the liner notes religiously, fingering the smooth paper, clasping and unclasping the plastic cases. How did these objects come to be? I never played an instrument — it was all a foreign land; how did you know what was good, what was intellectually “good” versus what made you dance, what made you think, what made your heart burst at the seams (was music supposed to do that?)
I am learning that it’s ok to like things because you just like them. You don’t need to explain, it doesn’t need to be The Latest Cool Band or the One True Artist Who Really Gets You. You can just listen.