As I wrote in my last post, I’ve been interested in doing another music meme here, but existing suggestions don’t seem to be inspiring me. Instead, I think I’m going to build my own. It’s likely to be quirky and personal and maybe not suitable for others, but if you’d like to play along with one or more of the subjects I propose, I’d love to hear your songs.
Blogging about music is now part of my job – not a big part, but a little part. And one of the things I love about it is that it gives me a chance to talk about music that matters to me — often figuring out the reasons along the way. I got to write an obituary for Lou Reed a couple of years ago and it turned out that the things I wrote about were not about sound. They were about the role his music played in defining myself, in belonging and not belonging, in growing up. That wasn’t what I was expecting to write.
Music for me has never been just about the sound. It’s always been a way of relating to the world, of learning about things I haven’t yet experienced. And there’s still so much to know.
I’m part of a small book group at my office that is reading books about music and psychology and cultural practice. We are not all musicians, but we’re all interested in the question of why we listen, how our listening and performing practices and preferences reflect other things about ourselves and our world. It’s been interesting, because we all have backgrounds in academia but we’re driven by questions that are primarily personal, practical, observant and curious. We’re doing this for fun. But in the course of our discussions, academic discourse has seemed ever more relevant. It’s made sense of my work. Past a certain point in an academic career, it can feel risky to dabble outside the area of your focus. But it’s so good to do it. It keeps me going, reminds me that just because you’ve selected your scholarly diet doesn’t mean you can’t be constitutionally omnivorous.
But while music blogging has been a way to sort out my own ideas about things, it’s also opened my ears and eyes to new things, new ways of thinking. The other great pleasure of blogging about music is hearing what other people are listening to and why it matters to them. So when I say I’d like to hear your songs, I mean it. Post in the comments, tag me on your own blog, slip me a note during social studies. Whatever works for you. I hope you’ll join me.