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Shameful admission

There comes a point in almost every relationship where the other person turns to you and asks what is, for me, the Great Dreaded Question. No, not politics, not religion, not whether you believe high fructose corn syrup is in actual fact the anti-Christ. My Great Dreaded Question is this: "So, what kind of music do you listen to."

Seems innocuous, doesn't it. But I have no response.

I've always enjoyed music, was pretty heavily involved in the performance thereof during my childhood and adolescence, and to this day, thanks to the vagaries of memory, can still sing in eight languages. But I've never been "into" music. In high school, when the boy I was madly in love with was waxing rhapsodic about Morrissey, I told people I thought Morrisey was the shit. (Don't think I've ever actually listened to Morrissey, at least not knowingly.) When the guy I was dating was into the Grateful Dead, lo and behold I was into the Grateful Dead. When the guy I was dating was a huge fan of The Replacements, I refused to even listen to their music and instead just mocked their name. (Like that little relationship wasn't doomed from the start.) Left to my own devices, I listened to show tunes, Billy Joel, Simon & Garfunkel. You know, stuff my parents had around, mostly. I was an innocent. I was busy with other things. I never felt the need to rebel through music. (Since my entire family reads this blog, and since I never got caught, we will leave the ways in which I did rebel shrouded in the mysterious fogs of history.)

Ok, I wasn't totally under a rock. I went to college singing Hunger Strike and Wooden Jesus, and once freshman year had a guy tell me I was the sexiest woman he had ever met because I knew all the words to Ten. But still, I listened to whatever was on, liked some, didn't like some other, didn't really care.

And then I met Chris. Chris who is, I don't know, what's the music equivalent of a foodie? Music is critical to him. He's deeply involved in it, he listens deeply and broadly and intelligently. He collects facts and figures. He has ideas and critiques and entire philosophies about music, and he's a rock star guitarist to boot. And he married me, and I never did and still don't much care.

But it seemed to raise the stakes for me, so that the Great Dreaded Question is even more dreaded. For a while, I answered by exclusion. "Well, I don't care for Country." Then I would try to make an effort and name something I had heard recently and liked. Until the day I offered up Sarah McLaughlin and was soundly mocked and ridiculed (by a loser, but still). It was then that I realized that this question isn't, or isn't entirely, about a swapping of musical tastes and suggestions, but instead is often a social barometer. Do we have something in common? Do you have good (as in, similar to mine) taste? Are you cool enough to talk to me?

I can't handle the pressure. The truth is that I can't even self-select music. The music on my iPod is whatever Chris puts there. I open up iTunes and am so overwhelmed (it is Chris's music, I assure you that it is overwhelming) that I just close it again. How am I supposed to find what I like? How I am supposed to find that one song I want when I don't know the title or the artist of the chorus but only that one line I loved that got caught in some grate in my head while all the rest went sluicing down the drain? What kind of statement is this music or that music making about me? I don't generally care what statement I am making, but it makes me uneasy to not have any concept about what it is.

When people ask me these days what kind of music I listen to, I tell the truth. Backyardigans, princess music, and the soundtrack for movies and musicals that Mia has seen. Mia is currently the sole arbiter of my taste. But someday, I won't have the children to fall back on any longer, and I will once again feel the need to run from any and all small talk, for fear of hearing The Question.

So instead, this is my confession. Hi, my name is Beth, and I don't care all that much about music.

Comments (32)

I love the backyardigans. Before my daughter turned to the Disney Dark side I loved watching BY with her. Such good music.

I usually say that I like anything that's good. Classic rock is my default, though, and I can't tell you how much I would like to have access to Chris' iTunes library. I can't even begin to imagine....

I AGREE.

Ahem.

I hate that question, and the pressure I usually feel to say the "right" thing. The truth is, I haven't really listened to music in years.

I DO care for country, and I think that'll get you more soundly mocked than a lot of things ;)
I love songs that SAY something, songs with a story, songs that move me and make me care. I love songs that say something I've been longing to say but have been unable to put into words, regardless of genre.
I love songs that draw you in, or make you laugh, or cry, or think about something in a whole new way. I like songs that will twist an old cliché into something new. I find the best songs are the ones I wish I could have written, or that I relate to so well that I feel like I could have written.
And that's prettymuch its own post, so I'm gonna put it up at my place heh.

That's better than me, I like bad music.

There would have been a point in my life where I would not have been able to understand people like you, who do not have strong opinions about music. I definitely used music as a social barometer in my teen and early college years. I once broke up with a guy largely because he actually liked the song "Hot Hot Hot" by Buster Pointdexter.

But as I have entered into full-fledged adulthood, music has become far less important to me. I still like it a whole whole lot. But I listen to more talk radio than music now, and I don't know or care one whit about the latest musical finds. And so your honest admission about your musical tastes is far more interesting, informative and attractive than if you had fibbed and said that you were a huge fan of Bon Iver or Animal Collective or . :)

I could have written this exact post, and I totally feel your awkward-pain. I HATE that question. My husband (Chris!) used to be in a band, still collaborates with said band from time to time, and has an extensive and varied music collection that is, to most people, very obscure. He buys all of the music, I like some, hate some, and I listen to whatever of his I like. I guess people assume that I must also be into music and that Chris and I must share some beautiful musical love together, but we don't. I make myself feel better because I buy all of the books in the house and he reads stuff I tell him to.

I have never been asked that question by anyone over the age of 23.

How did you get into my head? You just perfectly described my relationship with music. My dad was our small town's choir director (and oddly enough, choir was the coolest thing you could do) so I grew up immersed in it. All genres of choral music as well as whatever the kids were listening to on our trips. Who can forget hearing Simon & Garfunkel for the first time on a double-decker bus in Austria? But my ipod is full of podcasts and Christmas music. I just can't bring myself to pursue any more than that!

"How I am supposed to find that one song I want when I don't know the title or the artist of the chorus but only that one line I loved that got caught in some grate in my head while all the rest went sluicing down the drain?"

You google that one line plus the word "lyrics" and you should be able to narrow it down. ;)

I am by no stretch an audiophile, but I love music: the only time I'm not listening to *something* is when the TV is on. I love all kinds of music -- I'm not picky: if a song speaks to me (and yes, it can simply be one line) and/or has a good beat, I'll love it. I hate to admit that after 30+ years I'm still unable to hold my head high and say "Yeah, I like that Justin Timberlake/Britney Spears/enter vapid pop star here's stupid little song. What of it?" I hate that I still care what others think of my musical taste. However, music moves and shapes and affects my moods and mental state generally for the better, so who really cares if it's JT that does it?

Hi, my name is Chibi. I have questionable taste in music and I DON'T CARE. :)

Could we switch lives? Nobody ever asks me about music, and I LOVE music. My true confession is "Hi, my name is Sandy, and I don't care much about food or politics," which could get me shot in my liberal, foodie town.

I thought it was just me. I pretty much listen to whatever is on the radio.(Or whatever my kids request.) And since my husband is the only one who changes stations/cds/ iPod playlists, it's usually whatever he left on there.

Oh my gosh, I think we might be soul mates. I too feel utterly overwhelmed with my husbands 60g ipod. when we go on road trips and he tells me to turn it on I practically break out in a sweat. I hate it. I could honestly go without music. and I hate it loud. wow that made my 29 year old self feel old.

You think that YOU have problems. My sister asked whether I wanted to go to a Chris de Burgh concert and I said, "maybe". I would have said yes straight away only I knew that I would no longer be able to live with myself then as I would be the uncoolest person on the planet.

The same thing happened to me- only I USED to care about music. I had a record collection. (obviously, I'm over 40) Eventually, after motherhood, my music just sort of faded away. We listen to the soundtracks too. And I really like whatever my oldest son (20) suggests. But I can't deal with iTunes. I got a new iPod (old one was filled with my daughter's music) and it stayed empty for weeks....I could not decide what to put on it. It is too hard for me now. Although I will recommend Natalie Merchant- her daughter is in the same grade/school as mine! Isn't THAT cool?

I used to care about music but apparently my taste and interest arrested around the same time I graduated from high school. (Ever heard the song by Bowling For Soup - 1984? Okay, stupid question considering the topic of this post but my husband says that is me at least in regards to being stuck in the 80's.) I have probably 5 CDs recorded after I graduated and I think one of them is Harry Connick Jr so I'm not sure it counts. And I still own CDs - I don't have an Ipod. I used to see my mom being so clueless about music (how could she not know about and love Bon Jovi?) and swore I would always stay current with new music. Heck, I lost that battle before I was old enough to drink.

I=you.
You=me?
Whatever, I get it.

I love music but my husband LOVES music the way yours does. He actually had to buy an additional hard drive to store his music because he'd run out of room on his computer and iPod. He likes to tell me he doesn't listen to the same CD in the car twice, and you know, it's pretty accurate. Freak.

I listen to a lot of classical music, but also Tool, so my taste stretches across wide acres of styles. I like it this way, but I like it even more when I tell people that I listen to classical, then watch them crinkle some part of their face as if I just admitted to enjoying the subtle taste of spam. I like what I like and I tend to classify people that judge others on their musical taste in the same category as arrogant high school jocks.

i am exactly the same way... hated that question. and my husband is just like yours.

but i actually do like music. anything with a decent beat that i can bop around my living room to... i just don't care enough to find out what it is or to be up on the latest thing.

i also can't listen to music while i do anything else that requires any concentration.

I haven't bought a CD in years, and the only things I tend to buy on iTunes are songs from the 80s or 90s or something I hear on the new alternative station on XM, which I got because local radio is heinous and I have a long-ish commute. XM allows me to stay in my cocoon of music I like (early alternative, new alternative and show tunes mainly) that are hard to find on regular radio. The more I listen to XM, the more out of touch I am with "popular" stuff, but the more I find random alternative music that I do like.

Maybe try Pandora? You can pick a few songs you like and it will suggest others that are similar? But it's fine not to care about music at all and just listen to whatever is around.

I'm the same way. I like to listen to music, but I don't have a favourite. I'm bad at knowing artists names or the names of songs. I let my boyfriend pick the selection of music that we listen to. And I do like it, so thats good.

I'll second that confession.

Do you hate anything Chris listens to? For the most part I don't care, but every once in awhile I can't stand some band my husband likes, and there may be heavy sighing and eyerolling involved.

I don't care, either. For some reason I'm always surrounded by music snobs who try to one up each other with references to obscure bands and it annoys the crap out of me. Who has the energy for that much devotion to the cause?

I really do like almost everything. I don't get jazz, R&B, or really violent rap. And reggae all sounds the same to me. Other than that, I'll be happy to listen to anything.

I have definitely run into this situation. I will listen to almost anything, even some country - I like music quite a lot, I am just not a snob about it. I always answer the question with "female singer/songwriters", but they are only my favorites because they are the most fun to sing along with - Fiona Apple and Regina Spektor are awesome, but I also love rap/hiphop and cheesy cheesy pop. And I don't apologize for any of it.

Wow, I thought I was the only one in the world who was like this.

I do enjoy hearing what other people are listening too. Sometimes I like it. Sometimes I don't but it's fun to see where their music journey has taken them. It's like looking at pictures from someone else's vacation. Most of them are just there. Meh. Some you see and know immediatly you want to go there and do that too.

Anyway, CHEERS to another non-audiophile.

Sounds like your Mom and Dad had excellent taste in music. :-)

I SO know what you mean! I just don't care THAT MUCH about music... I actually prefer a radio or Pandora to my iPod since I like it when someone else is DJ. My other problem is I rarely listen to the words of the song... sometimes this gets me in trouble when my kiddo starts singing along with what i'm listening to and I realize there are some questionable lyrics. Whoops

I loooovvvee country....the sappier the better!!! That's my admission!!

Melina

YESSSSSSSSS I love you! I never admit this out loud because people act like I said "I eat babies", but it's so true. I am a movie gal... I can recite you all the lines of Princess Bride or Ferris Bueller. But lyrics? If it's not Happy Birthday, chances are I don't know it...

See, I live in the Chris camp of music. My dad was in a mega-popular local Philly band and my mother is naturally musical, so yeah...music is a big deal to me. It makes or breaks my existence. I make soundtracks for people, of people. I'm totally bat shit crazy.

That said, I think that you and Chris probably balance each other out fairly nicely. Like, my husband is Ob. Sessed with sports and honestly, I couldn't care less. But that gives A) him something to do without me and B) our kids the option to love it with him or not. I lovelovelove to cook, and my husband will only come in the kitchen to clean behind me.

Now, my husband is ALSO madly in love with music, but he and I had the most differing tastes in music you could imagine. He LOATHES the shit I listen to, and if I have to listen to the Rushmore soundtrack or, oh yes it's true, MORRISEY, that bitch is going to get cut. So our kids are double-screwed. He insists they know all the words to every Dillan song ever written and I double allowance if they can pick out The Ramones on the radio without prompting.

Wow, I really should start my own blog, huh?

We absolutely have this in common. I don't care about music and since discovering NPR rarely even listen to music. If someone asks me what I like/listen to I just have to fess up but it feels ridiculous to not have a favorite band/song/genre anything.

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So the Fish Said...

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