Friday, November 16, 2012

Not the Music Man

Not long ago, I made a joke about how my music buying habits must have made the iTunes music recommendation program explode.  I have bought exactly two items, “Bon Bon” by Pitbull and an album of bagpipes by the Strathyclyde Police Pipe Band.  I am a demographic of one.

MamaGoof and our guest then proceeded to have a conversation about Pitbull’s musical genre.  This fascinated me.  MamaGoof is extraordinarily busy, between work, kids, house, and me (lately I’ve been pretending to be a leopard – having me around can be exhausting), she does not have a lot of leisure time.  Yet somehow she had acquired a working knowledge of musicians whose musical careers began after the millennium (when did 2000 become a long time ago?)

I guess normal people can do this remember and categorizing music thing, but not me.

That neural net that allows people to hear songs and remember who sings them does not exist in my brain.*  This skewed much of my youth.  In college I was known as “the guy who hates music.”  It wasn’t that I hated music. I just wasn’t that interested.  I could hear a song and like it, hum it to myself but have no idea who was the artist and thus no ability to acquire said song and build a collection and a set of musical preferences.

I was – and am – completely incapable of carrying on even a brief conversation about music.  Since an enormous number of conversations between people aged thirteen to twenty-seven are about music this led to many awkward moments.

It did not help that when I did find something I liked and somehow managed to hang on to the identity of the group it was invariably cheesy/boring/dorky etc.

Bucking the Trend
Many years ago I went on a cross-country with a friend.  One of the reasons I think he was willing to go on this long drive with me was that I would let him pick the music.  One day, as we were driving from one of those enormous square states out West to another he turned to me and said, “It’s a nice day…”

I cut him off and added, “For a white wedding.”

“Whoa, surprise Billy Idol reference!”

In high school I recognized that I was missing something, so for a few months in a systematic manner I sought to rectify my failings.  Every Friday night I watched the MTV video countdown.  This had the twin virtues of being boring and sad.  Still I have an odd idiosyncratic and deep knowledge of hit videos circa 1984-1985.  But besides surprising friends on long cross-country drives, it hasn’t done me much good.

Fortunately, it appears the little Goofs take after their mother and have normal music appreciation abilities.  It is a blessing.

*Among the other things my brain simply cannot do are reverse driving directions (I regularly make wrong turns on routes I drive daily), remember how I like my eggs, and when watching a recorded show, I have no idea when the commercials end so I can stop fast-forwarding.

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