If I was more inspired I’d make some clever analogy with the myth. As usual, in the absence of inspiration I instead indicate what I would do if I was inspired. (One perk of this way of talking is that it saves time – works with humor too, rather than tell jokes say “if you wanted you could make a joke about this….”)

My friend Ted showed me this website called Pandora where you put in music you like and it plays you other music that it thinks you’ll like. It’s like a combination of the recommendation function at Amazon Dot Com with a radio station. Neat. So far most of the best music that it’s played for me is music I already own and it sometimes plays stuff that I think is really pretty lackluster (stuff that sounds to me like watered down radio and major label versions of good indie stuff that I like). Why would anyone buy music anymore? (Why do I still?)

Pandora offers a solution to a problem resulting from my not having much money, not having much time, and my being damaged by a stupid sensibility picked up in my younger punk rocker days – I got really into punk and indie music and all that stuff, and part of my getting into it was in that bad sort of way exemplified by this joke:

Q: How many indie rockers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: You mean you don’t know?

That is, I used to obsessively track down related artists and musical histories – “their bassist’s first band sounded like … and on that band’s second record …” etc. I missed some of the sillier extremes of the drive to classify music (power violence, crust, grind, emo violence, etc etc, I remember reading debates about that stuff – and worse reading record reviews that used those terms casually [“you mean you don’t know?”] – in zines and all that [my forays into trying to navigate techno have felt similar, in that nightmare-where-you’re-back-in-school-again way: 2-step, break-step, tech-step ….]), thankfully, but I didn’t miss all of it. Part of that was driven by excitement – I loved that music and I wanted more music that felt as good, and with some bands it was like ‘what in the hell are they doing, how do they make that noise with that instrument?!’ and I wanted terms to sort bands so I could talk about them. But it added up to a stupid approach to music.

As I’ve gotten older and started to enjoy other music again (partly in response to trying to mess with writing a bit of electronic music on the computer and being stymied by not listening to any of it and not having any sense of beats except a repetitive punk beat and partly in getting tired of dealing with the crowds at punk and hardcore shows) this sensibility has been nothing but a problem. I’m not often comfortable just hearing music and being like “ooh I like this” unless it’s music that just happens to be on – on the radio or at a friend’s place. That is, I only put down (and only partially put down) that bad approach if I’m passively encountering new music. If I try to go actively looking for new music it’s a different story. I get irritated quickly, and self-conscious (and irritated with myself for feeling self-conscious cuz I’m too old for this nonsense, dammit) and often give up.

Pandora, like internet radio (I’m partial to somafm, and I’m also partial to some of the xm radio stations that I’ve heard on flights where they have satellite radio) helps me get around that and hopefully can help make that habit atrophy.