Thursday, July 20, 2006


Yesterday I was listening to some music at work. Suddenly one of the bosses tried to listen in on my headphones and asked whether I was listening to Prince. I said "Who"? Apparently it was somebody that I was supposed to have heard about, because the coworkers kept making fun of me till the end of the day, and the Wikipedia article about this Prince is fairly big.

This happens to me every once in a while. I don't know many musical celebrities. I know Beatles and can recognize a lot of their songs. I also know Doors and Rolling Stones can can identify a couple of songs by each. I know about Michael Jackson and Madonna and what they look like because I sometimes see their faces on Google News, but can't identify a single song by either of them. I have heard about Bruce Springsteen and Elton John but these are just names to which I can't connect any music or faces. What I wonder about is how the rest of the world manages to know all the famous buggers?

Part of it, of course, is that all the media I ever use is written. I don't listen to the radio and don't usually watch TV. But I think that a greater part of it is that I am not interested in new music, and I wonder what makes other people interested in it. Basically: does new music contain some useful new information for other people?

When I read a book or watch a movie an essential part of the fun is that the book or the movie contains some interesting information (true or fictional). One can't read the same book all the time. There are a lot of books and movie that I enjoy watching over and over but even then I don't normally do so in a row: a fair lot of time has to pass before the book or the movie regains its freshness. I think most people do the same. Therefore one wants new books and new movies all the time.

But music? As far as I am concerned it is a purely physical pleasure, like food, and, like with food, I can enjoy a lot of the same stuff in a row, and I am satistfied with a finite number of different dishes/songs. There is no desire to look for more. I gladly try new food if I happen to see it and it looks appetizing; in the same way I sometimes buy a song to which I get accidentally exposed and which sounds good (this happens quite rarely), but I never have any desire to look for new because the old gets old, because for me it doesn't.

Not that I never find anything new: usually I pick up a bit of new music from the movies, and sometimes by accident from bars or at friends' places. I generally resist people's attempt to have me purposefully listen to something new, but at least one such attempt was successful.

The music that I don't like is usually just noise to me, and I have no recollection of it afterwards.

So, my dear readers: do all the rest of you actively look for new music? What makes you want to do so? And how do you manage to remember the performers of the music that you don't normally listen to?

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