Mar 04

Music Makes The Intro

A couple I know was recently on a vacation. Upon returning to us here in the Real World, I asked how the time was with their R&R.

“Good, but we needed someone like you there. We didn’t talk to anyone and kind of kept to ourselves. You know how you are? You’d talk to anyone.”

It got me thinking, what does it mean to be “personable” and why are some people more apt to talk to strangers than others?

Now there’s a clinical, behavioral answer here that I’m sure I’m as qualified to cite as Lindsey Lohan talking about a “positive work ethic” – Type A’s versus Type B’s and the like… but I think there is something more to this that involves a person… and their music.

Hang on with me here… this might be a little screwy and like most things in my brain, it is jumbled along with tasks to do, a hockey game on a muted TV, and listening to random obscure albums I have somehow acquired (I’m talking about you, Afro Celt Sound System).

You can tell a lot by a person’s music. What they listen to regularly or is their “go-to” might be a part of the reasoning that someone reaches out to get to know a neighbor, or becomes “Chief No Speak” and stays inside the hut.

Not to broad-brush – which is usually a phrase used to prepare the reader a broad-brush is about to be painting a masterpiece for your eyes n’ head – but here’s some thoughts on stranger friendliness and the music we love.

heart-barracuda-single-coverClassic Rock:  People who rock out with a little Jethro Tull or Led Zeppelin tend to be friendly when a macro-anthem song bridges the gap between unknown parties. Picture a good ol’ bar. Your local watering hole, not some fancy-smancy “tavern” or “pub.” A true to form bar.  Suddenly the sweet sounds of Nancy Wilson’s guitar kicks in with the rhythmic tones of “Barracuda.” Everyone hears it, knows what’s coming, and sure enough when the chorus is about to end, total strangers will look around the bar and in union all give the final “Ohhhhhhhhhh… Bar-a-cuda!” ….



Jazz: Jazz clubs are typically built around the “POD” mentality of high-back booths, smoke-filled supper clubs, and after-hours speakeasies. Back in the Jazz Era of the Roaring 20s, being friendly with someone meant knowing the club’s “password” buying a pack of Lucky Strikes, and pulling a dame (or gent) onto the dance floor to Turkey Trot. Later on though, the sitting around getting into jazz was defined as ellington_duke_newport56_cd-coverimmersion into the “chops” of players. Maybe a slight nod to Table Seven next to you when that tenor sax player play his 27 chorus without missing a beat, but all in all, jazz listeners connect more to their gimlets than to their fellow turtleneck n’ elbow-padded, finger-snapping jazz fan.



Metal: Metal fans are friendly, if and only if you are at a festival, preferably one that is multi-day, requires a tent or


RV, and most likely has a beer garden nearby some sort of make-shift “store” to buy more black t-shirts. Being at a metal show like that, you belong to a tribe. A tribe of outsiders. Why? Becasue unless you work at a tatoo parlor or a law firm that focuses on music industry record deal contracting law, you probably don’t fly that metal flag  too often at the water cooler or play some Ronnie James Dio in the break room on your 1/2 hour sit down with a Diet Dr. Pepper and a



Tupperware full of last night’s beef stroganoff. If you’re not at a festival, then you probably are only listen to your metal when you are rocking out in your car, probably heading to Lowe’s to grab that extra gallon of satin gloss for the rec room in the basement.

Hip Hop: You don’t actually talk to others with hip hop is on, but you do a sort of “sing along” to each other, testing the stranger you’re looking at to see if they know the second verse to “Scenario” … oh, and you might even create a circle for those who can’t dance to go into and attempt to break dance, like Turbo does in Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.breakin2

80s Pop: You talk to everyone. You meet tons of people because inevitably someone looks at you singing word-for-word the lyrics to Naked Eyes’ “Always Something There To Remind Me” and says “How do you remember this song? I haven’t heard this since my junior prom.”

Wolfgang-Mozart-9417115-2-402Classical Music: NO ONE connects when Bach or Mozart is playing. You are either in a music hall, facing forward, listening to NPR… or your waiting for your turn for a root canal. And everyone knows there’s no time to compare compositions and arias when you have a 1979 Look Magazine to read…here in 2013.

Drum n’ Bass: You don’t necessary “talk” to anyone…. but you do connect with everyone, because everyone is just so soft… and smooth…. and trippy…. ……..sorry. Tranced out there for a second.


parrot-glassAnything By Jimmy Buffet:  You not only bond with your fellow “A Pirate’s Looks At 40” listener, but you invite them to join your “Parrot-Head Nome, Alaska Chapter” – until they screw up the “Salt! Salt! Salt!” chat during Margaritaville, which then makes them look like tourists with neck-hanging cameras and fanny packs walking The National Mall in Washington, DC… and you revoke the membership offer and hide the flask of rum you smuggled onto the beach.



Disco:  Yeah… you should probably not go out and meet anyone. Disco only sounds good when it is re-packaged as Jamiroquai or during that family wedding where your aunts and uncles rock out and “get loose” circa 1977 when they were in line at Studio 54.  The 1970s called. It wants its disco ball and platform shoes back.

So how do some of us have that ability to connect with strangers and strike up conversations? We wait. We wait for “our jam” to come on… then look for someone else brave enough to sing the chorus to Crash Test Dummies’ hit Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm. Wow, is that awkward.

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