Saturday, March 30, 2013

It's not the singer, it's the song (with apologies to Survivor)

I put into words today something I've always known about my music listening habits but had never been able fully explain before (I think).

I enjoy music that showcases either the passion of the singer for the song (not his or her own voice), the work/art of the songwriter, the natural ability of the musician, and any combination thereof. What I don't (or perhaps can't) enjoy is music that showcases the vocal gymnastics of the vocalist or the hipness of the producer.

Now, I understand that those can cross sometimes. Hip producers can work with a fantastic and artistic band, and vocally gymnastic divas (of either gender) can fully deliver the breadth of a powerful song.

I also understand that sometimes a bad singer can deliver a powerful song (as my wife would say about Bob Dylan), or a woefully hip producer can ignore the intent of the songwriter and ruin what was an impactful song. 

I also know that my tastes have little to do with genre or style, but more with the passion intrinsic to the song or the performance (as long as said performance is about the song, not to show off the singer or band).

Listening to music has always been for me one of two things: (1) listening technically as a musician to better myself and "learn" the magic behind the song and (2) listening as a spiritual exercise as the song changes me somehow and says something to me. Very rarely do I "use" music as mere background noise, except at work, because that's expected in a retail environment. For me, listening to music is an active endearvor, not a passive one.

So, I guess this is all to say that when Lisa, the kids, and I argue about what station to listen to on the radio, I know know why I prefer to find a classic rock or "mixed-up" station rather than a top-40 one.

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