I don’t care about music.

Okay. That’s a little harsh. But it is also a lot true. 

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as several times I’ve had conversations with people about their attitudes towards music as it relates to how they grew up and it often seems to come down to this: I did not grow up with music in my house. I mean, we sometimes had the radio on. SOMETIMES. And my Dad did own TWO cassettes that I remember: George Michael and Whitney Houston. But for the most part? Music did not become a part of my childhood until made it a part and didn’t make it a part of my life until I fell in love with a boy who cared about music in 10th grade. And then suddenly I was the girl who had written ALL of the lyrics to Stairway to Heaven on a pair of jeans. 

Truthfully, most of my musical exploration came because of boys or girls I had crushes on. And listen…I STILL LOVE A LOT OF THAT MUSIC. Pearl Jam? Junior year boyfriend. Violent Femmes? Girl in my art class my senior year.  Grateful Dead? E’s Dad. Widespread Panic? College Boyfriend. Nine Inch Nails? Different college boyfriend. Indigo Girls? Girl in the biology program with me in college. Against Me!? Donnie.

And I love ALL of that music today and have Spotify lists full of it that gets tons of listening time.

But I could live without it.

That’s the difference I find between music people and non-music people. If music disappeared, I’d be fine. I mean, the WORLD would not be fine and so I would be upset, but if something happened in just MY world and I could never listen to music again? No big deal. I love it – WHEN I AM IN THE MOOD FOR IT – but that’s not something that happens enough that it would hurt me to live without. Sometimes it keeps me awake on a car ride because I can sing along. Sometimes it helps me through a tough run because it pumps me up when I’m dragging. But probably 75% of my “listening” is done to podcasts and NPR. I prefer talking to music. I couldn’t live without my podcasts, I could live without Spotify.

The funny thing is, Donnie is a music person. He grew up with it, his Dad was/is in a band, he was in a band, he would have music playing ALL OF THE TIME. But a lot of the times it drives me crazy. The only music I like is music that I know already and I very rarely like to just listen to someone else’s music if there’s not a chance I’m going to know any of it.  We’ve settled on a 90s station on Spotify that has a lot of music he likes, and often plays stuff that I know so it works out okay. But truthfully? I can only handle it for a little while. I could listen to podcasts all day, but music? Only in limited dosages.

What about you? Are you a music person? Did you grow up with music in your home?



12 Comments

  • Bobbie

    My husband is the biggest music person I know. Every genre except country, I think. We have outdoor speakers, speakers in the wall in the living room (you honestly don’t notice them), speakers in his man cave, speakers in our bedroom, and speakers in the basement (the floor honestly shakes when he has the surround sound on for a movie). He has 8 million songs on his iPod. His favorite thing to do is go to used record stores.

    Me? I’d rather have the TV on for background noise…

  • Fraulein N

    I didn’t grow up with music in my house much either, and I don’t think I’d call myself a music person. I wonder if that has something to do with it? I don’t necessarily like listening to podcasts either, but I really only listen to music when I’m in the car by myself or when I’m working out.

  • Beth Edwards

    I am a music person.I can’t drive or go to sleep without it.Having music on helps me concentrate. I grew up with music.There was usually a radio in the kitchen and a radio on in the car.My Father’s music was John Phillip Sousa. My mother’s Annie get to Gun soundtrack, Tennessee Ernie Ford,and the New Christy Minstrals. With a daughter that danced,I was always hearing music.What’s on !my IPod is a very eclectic mix ranging from children’s music,to Tony Bennett,the Beatles, Taylor swift,and some very interesting selections transferred my granddaughters
    Phones to my Ipod.

  • Elaine

    Ooh I love this conversation! I am kind of a take it or leave it person, which is very ironic because I sang in Glee Club all four years in college and I still sing in a women’s barbershop group. I couldn’t care less about barbershop, but I do like to sing and I like the supportive group of women. I have a piano which I sometimes play for stress relief, but I’m not great. I listen mostly to podcasts in the car and music (which I do actually really like) is still mostly just background noise. One of my brothers can hear a song ONCE and then sing it, play it on the guitar, and tell you what band and album it’s from, and this is AMAZING to me. I just don’t have space in my brain for that, and it doesn’t really matter to me. I don’t go to concerts often (I like going to Red Rocks Ampitheater because it’s close and a really cool venue and very mellow (I get very anxious in crowds and hate loud noises)) but I’ve only done that twice ever, and my last concert before that was 2005. I do put on Spotify at home when I’m cleaning or sometimes if I’m doing a salt bath, but if music disappeared I’d still whistle or hum or sing to myself but I wouldn’t really miss it. Side note: my parents had a huge ton of albums and we were allowed to listen to them at will as kids, but we somehow always ended up putting on Barbara Streisand, Johnny Horton, Kansas, or Bill Cosby stand-up. Talk about eclectic!

  • Karen

    Total music person here. (My license plate is “IMSINGN”). Enjoy music from many different eras and genres: big band, the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, Christian, pop, folk, and country… Fewer songs from the last 10-20 years; there might be one or two a year that wind up on my radar. The radio is always on in my van, usually on a satellite station or what’s on my phone. Grew up in a musical family; 2 of my 3 siblings played in band or orchestra, and three of us were in select choir in high school. One had a country/southern rock band in high school and on up into adulthood. I think I got much of my musical taste/interest from him. He was a kick-ass fiddle player.

  • Samantha

    I didn’t have music growing up either, just occasionally, and that’s how I listen to music now – occasionally. I’m with you, I like stuff I already know, but the only way I’ll “know” it is if I’ve heard it on the radio. I’m not going to go out and try out new music. I don’t watch much tv either. The whole concept of “background noise” baffles me. What’s wrong with peace and quiet? And if I’m not actively listening to it, why is it even on? I can’t stand riding in the car with someone and having the radio on and then they try to talk to me. I’m like, either let’s talk or let’s listen to the radio. I can’t do both. I feel like I’m a stereotype of a grumpy old person yelling at the kids to turn down that noise! Only I’m not old, and I rarely yell at anyone. 🙂 I just mean that I find music more annoying than anything else. I’m glad you posted something about this, because I’ve always felt like there was something wrong with me for not getting music. I have friends that are super into it, and when I read someone online like Dooce who is super into it, I often feel like I’m really weird. Maybe I am, but it’s nice to know I’m not totally alone.

    • Elaine

      Samantha, I totally get it! I like music, but I never really go out and seek it (aside from singing, which is more of a social thing for me). If I turn it on, I intend to listen to it, but kind of forget and it ends up being background noise. I never turn it on for just exactly that purpose. It also drives me CRAZY when I have the radio on in the car and my husband starts talking. And he’ll see that I am getting annoyed about having music on while he’s talking, so he reaches over and turns down the volume. I would MUCH prefer that he just turns it off instead, because it’s still a distraction, and then I have to fiddle with it to get it back to just the right level again. So yeah, mostly I just listen to podcasts. I was always the odd one out in my family in that I don’t seem to NEED music the way my brothers and parents do.

  • Vicki

    I cannot imagine a world without music. My mother is a very gifted pianist and organist and I’m sure could pick up any instrument and learn to play it well within a week. My father used to be a choir director. From my birth until my late twenties he did that. He also played the trumpet and trombone. I’ve never not had all types of music in my life. I took piano but didn’t apply myself. I was more interested in singing and I was very good until my voice was affected due to injuries from a car accident. I just don’t have the ability anymore. But music is everything. My life has its own soundtrack.

  • Della Goldsworth

    I had a friend years ago who claimed she would rather go blind than deaf because she loves music that much. Me? MUCH rather go deaf! I enjoy music, but not fanatically like many people I know. I like to listen to it in the car (though would rather listen to an audio book), and love singing along, even though I sing terribly. I love to dance to music.
    But it would not devastate me if it were gone from my life.

  • Laura

    Interesting! I’d say I’m take it or leave it with music, although I do like it a lot. I love to listen to music while I’m driving (which I do a lot). However, my husband? Who begged for piano lessons as a child, who plays multiple instruments and sings? Who has been in one band or another as long as I’ve known him? Who would probably say that music is as essential as breathing? He listens to talk radio in the car and in the shower. Drives me nuts.

  • Olivia

    Yes, music was a constant in my home. My sister played trumpet, Mom played clarinet, dad played trumpet. Mom’s parents played fiddle and trombone. Dad’s parents played trumpet and piano. Dad’s younger brother was a vocalist, the other, a clarinetist. One cousin played the guitar, another is a French horn player. My maternal grandmother’s sister played baritone, her brother was a flautist, her brother-in-law, percussion. Three band directors in my family and several more music teachers. There wasn’t really any question that I’d go into music, but to be honest, I think I could live without it. I wouldn’t want to. I enjoy playing the trumpet but I could find a way to be happy if I never played it again.

  • Olivia

    Also, maybe music enjoyment is affected by both early childhood experiences and genetics. Not everyone notices or hears the same things when they listen to music. A classically trained musician can hear all kinds of things going on in a symphony that a non-musician wouldn’t notice, kind of like how an artist notices aesthetic qualities of a painting that most of us would never notice. I don’t usually care to go to an art museum, but a person with a trained eye might get a totally different emotional experience because what they see isn’t what I see. My boyfriend can remain enraptured by an entire hour-long symphony and remember very minute details. He experiences a vivid emotional journey because his ears pick up on the chord qualities and unique timbres and although he is a classically trained musician, he’s also been this way since he was a small child, before receiving any lessons. Maybe some of our brains are naturally wired to notice and make sense of music more than others? I’m no expert, but it sometimes it seems that way.