What's your policy when it comes to getting music recommendations from friends? Do you avoid them, take them when they come, or seek them out? How effective do you think friendly recommendations are for finding stuff you're really going to like? Do you ever feel self-conscious about getting into stuff because other people introduce you to it, instead of finding out about it some other way? Oh, and on a related note, what do you think about getting to know new music because of a significant other?
Personally, I solicit recommendations from people a lot and sometimes I find it really helpful. Maybe it's just me, but I think I'm more prone to asking for music advice than most people. When I think about the music I like, it seems like at least half of it is stuff I found out about from a friend. But at times I've gotten a bit of a 'tude from people who think it's dorky to admit you don't already know everything there is to know or that you didn't spring fully formed as an adult with strictly defined tastes. Most of the time I shrug it off. But I do feel a little defensive about getting into music because of someone I've dated. Anyways, I'm just wondering about other people's experiences with this.
Well, sure, you can't get advice like that from just anybody. Though I find that almost everybody has something they can teach me about. A lot of the best stuff I've found out about from friends has been from people who don't think of themselves as having any musical cred.
I take them when they come and seek them out; when it comes to music recommendations from friends, I usually take them seriously, depending on that particular friend's taste and how closely it may or may not resemble mine. For you and Karen, for instance, I feel a bit like I'm constantly following you guys around ;) No one owns music (or taste), so I feel like anyone is free to take whatever recommendations out there from wherever. Besides, even if you don't hear something from a friend, you're bound to hear it from somewhere or someone else, be it radio, a music blog, etc. There's so much out there, you almost have to find some arbitrary way of limiting where it's coming from.
As for sig others, I feel the same way about music recs from them as from a friend: it really depends on their taste. I still have burned CDs from the asshole who took my virginity that I listen to now and then, and it doesn't bother me (though it used to give me a twinge, years ago). McKee, conversely, is the best bf ever, but I almost never take musical recommendations from him because our tastes are very different.
You know, I've had that feeling myself that I'm "following someone around," but I've never thought of you as doing that. I guess I'm probably just not as aware of times when you found out about stuff from me as you are, which makes me think that other people (including you) probably don't realize how much stuff I've found out about from them.
I think I'm pretty similar when it comes to adopting music from boyfriends and such, just letting it depend on the person, but I always feel a tiny bit weird about it. I mean, it would really bug me if I ever thought people perceived me as getting into everything through my partner. I haven't really had a problem with that in any of my major relationships, but I could imagine it happening given my propensity for liking music dorks.
I don't see how it really matters how you find out about something. You've got to hear about first from some place, don't you? It shouldn't matter if it's a blog, a friend, the radio, or a tv commercial. I suppose there's some hipster hierarchy of sources that places a premium on more obscure self-guided ways of finding out about music (might be interesting to try and create this list). But really all that matters is keeping your ears open. After all, nobody finds out about music by having somehow magically beamed into their brain--they heard about it from someone who "discoverd" it first.
As for the whole boyfriend/girlfriend thing, I think it only becomes an issue if you're glomming onto their music taste just to make them to like/respect you more.
I think that the boyfriend/girlfriend thing is more of a sensitive issue if you're a woman in a relationship with a man. Because the sad fact is that a lot of people do take men more seriously when it comes to music. They may not even notice the assumptions they're making. It makes me think about when I was at Bard doing entertainment committee (booking bands and putting on shows for the students) and when I would work the door at shows and stuff like that, people (usually guys, but not always) would always talk to my committee-mate Joel and refer to me as his "girlfriend." Just assuming that if I was working on the shows I must be dating a committee member instead of being one myself. I've run into this with people who actually were my boyfriends, too, more often than I care to remember. People regularly asked me if I got into music through Steve (when they didn't just assume it), though I think he probably ended up finding out about more favorite records through me than vice versa. It's not true of everybody, but there are definitely a lot of people out there who make these spurious assumptions. I try not to worry about the opinions of goofballs, but sometimes it bugs me anyway.
I see what you mean. I think it's somehow related to the whole trainspotter/collector thing with guys and their music. Some people are always going to assume girls aren't that into music and are just in it for the scene or to see cute bands. While I'm sure that's sometimes true (for both boys and girls, no doubt), it's a silly generalization to make, not to mention being fairly insulting.
And guys are just as guilty, I can tell you. There is stuff I listen to today that I first got into because girls I liked in high school were listening to it.
It's interesting that you brought up glomming on to somebody's taste just to try to get them to like you more, but you found out about stuff that became important to you because of girls that you liked. I think that's a crucial distinction--liking something because someone you feel drawn to or have a close relationship with likes it and that causes you to give it a chance, versus engineering your taste to get a certain reaction from somebody. Though I think sometimes the first type of dynamic gets stigmatized because people conflate it with the second.
This keeps reminding me of Karen's ex-boyfriend who dated Sara for a while (and introduced me to her). He made her a mixtape once to try to impress her. Later, when she got to know me and Karen, she found out that almost the entire tape was stuff Karen liked that Chris had never been that into. It was a pretty blatant example of trying to have the right musical taste to get a certain person to like you, rather than sincerely opening up to something because of a person you like a lot.
...trying to have the right musical taste to get a certain person to like you, rather than sincerely opening up to something because of a person you like a lot.
Although one of these seems more "authentic" than the other, I wonder if it's always so easy to tell the difference, especially at the time it's happening. Or if it matters. I guess in the end you're left with some music you don't like, and some that stays with you.
Interesting you should post this - I was just thinking about how I have kind of lost any sort of "musical identity," if that makes sense. In other words, if someone were to ask me what kind of music I like, or even what my favorite bands are right now, I honestly would have no idea what to say. It's a little weird, because at least at one point in my life I was very enthusiastic about the local music scene and finding new bands, etc.
Maybe part of it could be blamed on my current lifestyle, which is enjoyable yet still kind of harried. Maybe it's just because I'm inherently thrifty (or just cheap) and have literally not purchased a new CD for myself in...I don't even remember the last time. This makes me sound pathetic, I know, but I'm not too bothered by it - is that worse, that I don't mind?
So, to respond to another point in your post, I find that I rely heavily on Robert for even listening to new albums. As a result, I find myself becoming fairly knowledgeable about old time country music and heavy metal about, um, hobbits or something. And I enjoy listening to what he brings home, but it really isn't "my" music, exactly - not music that I discovered and picked out and cherish. I guess this really does make me sound kind of lame. On the other hand, he did surprise me with a Regina Spektor CD for Christmas,and I'm so out of it that I have never even heard of her, and have thus enjoyed it without any baggage concerning whether I "should" like her.
Bah, joyless hag, schmoyless hag. I think I know what you mean, even though I haven't been in the exact same situation. During my last serious relationship (which spanned the greater part of my 20s), I got way out of the habit of listening to new stuff, but my boyfriend didn't. There are a lot of reasons this happened which are probably really different from the reasons you've gotten out of the habit while Robert keeps trucking along with his old time country and heavy metal about hobbits. But the end result is complicated. Of course you're hearing some stuff from him that you really love. But sometimes if that disparity gets bigger than it used to be, it feels weird. For me, it was tough, in part because I had always seen myself as a music person but I was losing track of that while my partner wasn't. I think you've got a lot more exciting, fulfilling reasons for putting music on the backburner than I did (e.g. that adorable baby), though maybe that just seems important because I'm not you. But even if you're ok with not being as involved in it as you once were, if you're having this "losing musical identity" feeling, it might make you feel better to make an effort in a few small ways to find a few new things to like that are "yours." For me, it seems like I can deal with not being super involved at points in my life, but my mental health is better when I have a certain modicum of that musical identity feeling. Though I also go through these big cycles over the years where I get more or less excited about stuff, more or less involved. Which might end up happening to you at some point, too.
I wrote a post about losing my *ears* when I was with my ex so you know I can relate to what you are talking about here. I'm really happy to be recommended/find out about stuff from anyone who is interested enough to offer...
I forgot, I also wanted to say that I think it's really cool that Robert was able to pick out something he thought you'd like that you'd never heard, and you really did. It's partly a testament to his abilities as a recommender, but I think mostly it's just a good sign that he really knows you and thinks about your perspective on things. I mean, if he can buy you new music and shoes and do a good job on both--that's love.
Good point about the "x sounds like y" formula--that usually is a bad sign.
I don't know how you're supposed to find out about stuff without getting information from friends, but I've definitely run into people who almost never admit to having found things that way. It's silly.
when i become interested in a person, i become interested in their taste in music, film, etc. even if their music isn't really my style, and i've never taken issue with that. music reminds me of my friends and i'm always curious about what drives them. matt is responsible for almost all the new wave in my collection, nation of ullyses, afghan whigs, 3 mile pilot and all sorts of bands i never would have heard unless it was for him, and i like having these associations for the most part, except when i had to drive back solo from chicago after he passed and absolutely everything in the car could be traced back to matt so i had to sit there in silence.
I think what you're describing is a big part of why you have such an interesting, wide-ranging knowledge of stuff. Which in turn helps you relate to a lot of people about music--I've always appreciated how you seem to be able to find at least a little bit of musical common ground with most people you meet.
This is a good topic. And as you know, I love to give music recommendations. I certainly hope I've never given you any 'tude.
I have a couple of rules I try to follow when giving recommendations to people. First off, I try and recommend things I think they will like, not necessarily what I like, or want them to like. So I will generally ask them a few questions about what they like/don't like, just too see where they're coming from.
Second and most important, if I'm trying to turn someone on to a new artist or genre, I try really hard to recommend the album I think will be the best gateway for that particular person. That means I don't always recommend what I personally think is the band's best work or my personal favorite. You can really turn a person off on a band by giving them an inappropriate first impression. I am always reminded of my high school friend who tried to introduce me to Kate Bush by first playing me "Get Out Of My House" from The Dreaming. That put me off Kate for a good while; I just wasn't ready for that level of weirdness. Now I recognize it as genius, but at the time I had to hear the first side of Hounds Of Love to get me hooked.
No, you've never given me a 'tude. Well, not about music. About my crush on Dan Akroyd or my lack of aptitude for Wii boxing, maybe. ;)
These are all good points about the best way to go about recommending stuff. I'm not surprised that you have thoughtful things to say on the subject since I've always found you to be a good recommender of things. Though I'm thinking, especially after my exchange with Sara above, if you realize how much stuff you've recommended that I found really interesting or ended up getting into. As well as stuff you introduced me to that I find really interesting but just haven't found the time and resources to adequately explore yet, but that I have filed away.
While we're on the subject, I was thinking recently about whether I have anything I could recommend to you and I realized that there are a ton of things I like that I think you might like, but I generally assume you already know all about all of it. (I was thinking about the mix CD trade thing, because I finally burned copies of my mix for everybody but I was thinking about adding something extra to make up for the lateness. I thought about making individual mixes for everybody, but that seemed like it would just take forever. But just thinking about it made me wonder what the heck I'd put on a mix for you.) Anyways, I'm sure there must be at least a few things I could recommend to you that you don't already know, but I have no way to distinguish them from the things you would already be familiar with. Sometimes I think I should go look at your record collection the next time I'm at your house and make a list of things that aren't there.
for me, it depends on the friend. almost none of my closer friends share any of the same interests as me, so i don't take their music recommendations very seriously, nor do they take mine at all. i think there is just an unspoken agreement that we aren't to discuss it - i don't care about the new my chemical romance, they don't care about the new project from the guy from kings of convinience, and we leave it at that.
i have been really fortunate, however, to have two or three people within my meager sphere of influence who have really amazing tastes, and i pretty much take their word for whatever is good. i very rarely get the opportunity to repay the favor because they are almost always ten steps ahead of me, but i think they understand how appreciative i am of their recommendations (at least, i hope they do). i do worry privately that i come off to them as a bit of a leach, but i try not to let it reflect in the way i approach them.
there are probably a handful of other people who i kind of take recommendations from on a case by case basis - we have overlapping tastes, but not everything meshes up well. i try to keep an open mind though, and hopefully they do too.