What I listen to at home (hint: not classical)
You know me by day as a mild-mannered classical music announcer. But at day's end, I zip home, enjoy some din-din and wine with The Wife, escape to my listening lair, paste on a scruffy beard, don a pair of clunky black-rimmed glasses, change into 100% organic hemp clothing, including a fuzzy stocking cap even in the hottest weather (what's up with that, anyway?) and become -- cue the electric ukulele -- Indie Man!
Yes, I'm positively obsessed with indie rock. That name, by the way, is, like classical, jazz, and others, a huge umbrella under which an amazing diversity of music finds shelter. But basically, indie refers to any of many types of current rock and related styles in which creativity and personal expression take precedence over commercial appeal. Not that commercial music can't be creative, or that indie can't be commercial.
It hasn't always been thus for me. Indeed, for decades, I assumed that no popular music could hope to measure up to classical and jazz, the styles I embraced in 1968. That's when one day, with the imperiousness for which only thirteen-year olds should be forgiven, I turned my back on the sounds of my youth, mostly pop and rock. Of course, during the subsequent years when I disparaged the pop and rock of the time, I wasn't remotely aware of how it actually sounded. Funny how often that's how it is when people disparage the tastes of others.
But then, just a few years ago, a couple of chance encounters unblocked my ears from what I had been missing. Any my ears liked what they were hearing very much. Here is a whole generation of smart, talented, creative young people, expressing themselves intelligently and intelligibly to a committed audience of their peers. They come from all over the place -- big cities, small towns, faraway lands. Compared to other genres, they're relatively likely to be female. Lots of what they do is pretty good, some of it is junk, a few things are fabulous. And making my way through all of it to find the fabulous is a big part of the fun. Maybe as I get older, I have a greater need never to lose touch with what those crazy kids are doing nowadays. Sure beats becoming a bitter old grump, perpetually griping about how much better music was when I was younger. On the contrary, I think music keeps getting better and more interesting every day.
So does that mean that my love for classical music has been diminished? Not a bit. I still crave my daily Bach, Mozart and Beethoven. And nothing pleases me more than sharing my love of classical music with you.
But, in my humble opinion, one should not live by classical, or any one genre, alone. A real music lover is one who can appreciate all the good stuff, no matter how it sounds. May I recommend ten of the CDs that unstuffed my mind?
José Gonzalez: In Our Nature
Jens Lekman: Night Falls Over Kortedala
Neutral Milk Hotel: In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
Of Montreal: Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?
Joel Plaskett: Ashtray Rock
Radiohead: OK Computer
St. Vincent: Marry Me
Sigur Rós: Ágætis byrjun
Sufjan Stevens: Greetings from Michigan, the Great Lake State