9 March 2010

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Until high school, almost all of the music that I owned and listened to on the radio, and most of the music that I listened to at other times, was instrumental (mostly classical and chamber music). (At that point, my sisters decided that I'd been deprived and started introducing me to classic rock, which stuck pretty well.)

Anyway, I don't know if this is cause or effect, but I tend not to really be aware of most of the lyrics of most popular music that I listen to. It's not that I was never curious, but if I'm not specifically trying to pick out the lyrics (and often even if I am), it's not what I hear. (I also learn music much faster than I learn lyrics when I'm studying it to perform.)

Slow accretion of lyrical knowledge, plus the more recent introduction of a smartphone that can both identify songs and look up lyrics, have changed this somewhat. As a result, I've become more aware that while there's a lot of music out there that I like, much of it has lyrics that are either banal or distasteful. (E.g., I like most of Elton John's music quite a lot but hardly any of Bernie Taupin's lyrics.)

How do you listen to music? What do you pay attention to? How do you decide whether you like a given piece of music?


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