Z listens

I vastly appreciate it when someone recommends music to me. It takes some confidence, I think, as music is so personal. A couple of years ago, it took much persuasion for Ro to agree to let me listen to some of his music. Finally, he asked why I was so insistent. I explained that he came with me to classical and jazz concerts, enjoyed and discussed them with me and was open-minded about what he listened to, even if it was not something that he would buy himself. I respected his taste and would like to repay his courtesy by being introduced to the music he liked. Finally, he got it and agreed, asking only that I listen to whole albums, not single tracks. Thus, I was introduced to Neutral Milk Hotel, Grandaddy, Lali Puna and, most appreciatively, The Mountain Goats, amongst others.

When someone lends me a CD, I always make a point of buying another album by the same band (or at least one of the bands on the CD) if I like it as I think that’s only fair. I rarely if ever buy anything by someone particularly well-known (that is, so thoroughly in the charts that they even pierce my lack of interest), so they should have my financial support.

Since then, and I don’t understand it at all, it’s not that my taste has changed exactly, but it’s expanded to a degree I can’t explain. What I’d have dismissed as a noise, a few years ago, I now listen to with pleasure and interest. I gave up on popular music back in the early 1970s. In fact, it was the Osmonds that I blame. And Gary Bleeding Gl1tter. Suddenly, music was performed for or by children (Teenyboppers gave way to Weenyboppers, rather like CBBC and CBeebies now), or else it was T Rex or Slade, neither of which did it for me. I stopped listening for 33 years and reserved my affections for classical music. Later, I turned to jazz as well, but three decades of current music passed me by almost entirely, exceot for sometimes dips into John Peel for the man himself, didn’t make head or tail of what he played. I have a depth and breadth of ignorance that would surprise you. This is fine with me, it means that I have heard of hardly anyone and come to it with a genuinely open mind, and I don’t even know enough to be embarrassed by what I don’t know.

Several of you have kindly suggested albums or artists I should try, and what I’ve written so far is a preamble to my thanks to Mike (Troubled Diva, that is – or do you want a link?). I have become a bit obsessed with Shearwater’s album, Rook, which he suggested I try, a couple of weeks ago and which, of course, I promptly bought. In the way of good music, it took me a few listens to thoroughly like it – sometimes, what I like to start with can grate after the fourth time of playing ( a mark of my tentative taste) – but now I play it most days. Jonathan Meiburg has the most stunningly assured counter tenor voice and the band are excellent instrumentalists.

I was playing it when I started to write, but now I’ve moved on to the Old 97’s. I like contrast. It’ll be some Britten next (Benjy Brit, as the eponymous high school is called in the town of his birth).

Oh and, listening again, I forgot to mention how beautifully he phrases the lyrics. Commas and all, although not intrusively.

16 comments on “Z listens

  1. LizSara

    I love other people’s recommendations of music for me. It makes me wonder sometimes what kind of person they think i am that i would listen to some of it. It’s one of hte reasons i enjoy Myspace so much, i get daily requests from bands who think i might like them because a friend bot says so based on other bands in my friends list. recently i’ve been getting lots of folk requests

  2. Z

    There’s ‘this is what I like’ and ‘this is what I think you’d like’ isn’t there? It’s like when my mother was given a record called ‘Singalongamax’ back in the 60s (Max Bygraves, that is). She was so offended to think anyone would have chosen that, thinking she’d like it. It was never removed from its sleeve.

    Folk. Indeed. Mind you, Tom Lehrer is, puzzlingly, categorised as Folk by iTunes.

  3. Wink

    My favourite CD is the Doors Concerto with Nigel Kennedy – first heard it on Classic FM and had to stop the car to listen. I know some people snear about the channel but I’ve heard some really good stuff that I would never have normally listened to. Like you, kiddo, I gave up on pop music in the 70s and not having children never got back into it. Keep up the good work!

  4. Z

    It wasn’t having children, it was the irresponsibility of middle age that did it. Job done and all that!

    Bring ’em on, darlings, I’ll listen to them all, although easy listening worries me a little – however, I see I have some Cole Porter, Frank Sinatra, Jack Buchanan (good name, Buchanan) and Nat King Cole in that category already so I should not be afraid.

  5. Z

    Some of them are rather the opposite of easy listening, Jamie!

    The more different styles one listens to, the more possible it is to not react, initially, with “do I like it?” but “is it good?”

  6. I, like the view

    I too have dicovered new music thru the recommendations of bloggers. . .


    (have you ever heard/of The Penguin Cafe Orchestra?)

    but I’m digressing, I really came over to say thank you, z so much for your kind words


  7. I, like the view

    (ps in my university days, I went out with a classical violinist, who played for the LSO and The Academy of St Martin in the Fields; he was a contemporary – at The Juilliard School in NYC – of that trendy violinist with the punk hair style; for four years I barely listened to any “popular music”, as I spent most of my spare time watching/listening to the orcestras at afternoon rehearsals and evening concerts; I can remember once trying to put a Dire Straits tape on in the car, on a very long journey – he wasn’t impressed; later I wooed him with Sade. . .)

  8. badgerdaddy

    Z, did you ever listen to Mara Carlyle? I bigged her up on my blog a few times, she was due to have an album out with EMI this summer but their internal wranglings have put it on hold. Her first album’s great though, and she’s influenced quite a bit by classical. And she’s an incredible singer, and I do not use that word lightly here.

    Go on, give her first album a go – The Lovely.

    Oooh, or the EP can be heard at http://www.myspace.com/maracarlyle
    Apologies if you’ve been already and it’s not your cup of tea… You never know, I guess.

  9. Z

    All will be followed up, though it may take a while, until I need something new.

    A responsibility indeed, Mike, for blind trust led me to (pay for and) download it unlistened to. I credit you almost as much as Ro for opening my ears. And Badgerdaddy too. And – oh, you know who you are. If I go on, I’ll certainly leave someone out and I’ll be explaining why I don’t have a blogroll again.


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