Thursday, December 11, 2008

Why do seasons and songs feel the same?

I picked up my carpooling comrade from Midas this morning, where he'd dropped off his car for some maintenance. "Amazing the way mentioning an arrested governor sparks conversation in a service waiting area," he noted to me.

"It's sort of like the weather," I said. "We all have it in common." I recalled my high school job at a grocery store, when we carted groceries out for our customers. It was the store's special little touch to create a small-town experience for rootless consumers. I always made small talk with them about the weather.

"Yeah, I guess, we all have that in common. We all can agree on that."

"Right. For strangers, conversations center first around commonalities, not differences."

Movie quotes (and The Office, for that matter) function as universal inside jokes (if there can be such a thing) for our generation, I've noticed. If I want to establish a rapport with someone, finding commonality is essential. Tommy Boy is a good starting point. I've seen this happen with complete strangers.

Quotes can also establish boundaries pretty quickly because they work as a good indicator for how culturally hip someone is. Movie quotes will sound very non sequiter for the those who are unfamiliar with the movie. If you recieve a strange look or no response (anything besides laughter really), then you know your dealing with a culturally aloof individual. You have a good indicator about whether the friendship has potential. Why is that? Why do we evaluate possiblities by pop culture?

Another way we do this is with music. While we quote movies more often, I think music is more influential than movies. This could be argued, I'm sure. Music is a big way that individuals find commonality. This may be the first point of connection. Once, I mentioned to a group of friends a musician I had gone to see. One girl was very surprised. She hadn't pegged me for that sort of person. A few months later, we were dating.

Interestingly, on our first date she gave me a mixed CD of some of her current music. When I told my sister this, she said something like, "Oh, she wants to be known." It was true. Music is a window into our personal lives. It is a sort of revealing, a get-to-know-you. I knew a few of the songs, but most of them were unknown to me. I liked some, didn't like some others. A few months later, we weren't dating anymore.

I've also found that friends grow to share similar musical taste, or that they find out only after a while that they share an affinity for a certain band. What is it about music that we find commonality in it. Is it something intrinsic to the music that it appeals to certain demographics? Or is it that we've been bred by mass culture to use music that way, as a means for identity? It's probably somewhere in between.

Well, I could conclude my thoughts there, but that would leave the title of this post completely disconnected. I set out to write another post completely. That almost always happens. Often I never get to the actual post I'd intended to write. That will not happen this time.

I think music evokes feelings similar to those we associate with the four seasons. Some bands feel like Winter, others like Summer, Spring, or Fall. They have nothing clearly in common with those seasons, except that in the individual similar feeling arise in both contexts.

It was interesting then that when I asked some colleagues at lunch that we agreed about which bands fell in which seasons. It's interesting that for unique personalities, similar emotions are evoked by both seasons and music to connect the two.

That's all philosophical, and maybe a bit dry from some of you. All in all, I just wanted to post a list of bands (or CDs) that fell into the various seasons. Thanks to my colleagues who helped. And I guess it's a bit of a survey too. Do you agree that these bands fit their season? And what other bands do you think fit a distinct season emotively?

The Fray
Sixpence, None the Richer
The Killers (late Sept)
Norah Jones' "Not Too Late"

The Myriad(?)
Counting Crows
Ingrid Michaelson
Pedro the Lion
Norah Jones's "Come Away with Me"
Coldplay (Winter/Spring)

Sufjan Stevens
Norah Jones' "Feels Like Home
U2 (May)

Jack Johnson (Spring/Summer)


Anonymous said...

The Killers are my choice for late September, too! Especially "Sam's Town"...

Dan said...

Jason Mraz (late summer)
Andrew Peterson (spring)

What about Jon Foreman? He has his 4 EP's - Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring. That's a winner.

John Lynch said...

My wife and I married before fully realizing how radically different our musical tastes & radio station preferences actually were. After nearly 6 years, however, she now listens to NPR and I love singing radio backup to Gwen Stefani's, "This shit Is bananas... B-A-N-A-N-A-S!"