Play Listen Repeat Vol. 35

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ca_Smiths_Meat.jpgMany interesting comments from my last post – I had no idea so many people might find the Beatles to be underwhelming, but there you have it…!
Last week I watched several of Radiohead’s recent webcast performances, and one of the covers they did was The Smiths’ The Headmaster Ritual. I loved that song when I was younger, and hadn’t listened to it in quite a while; and seeing Radiohead’s cover reminded me of how much I like the song.
Then when I investigated it a bit more, I realized that not only do I still like the song a lot, but I also believe it is actually quite a good piece of recording and writing, considered from general artistic and aesthetic perspectives.
Musically, it’s an interesting song which contrasts a dissonant opening chord progression with a loping, chiming guitar and bass riff, and which overall has a kind of shimmering power. It’s a diatribe against the abusive effects of British boarding schools, with lyrics like “belligerent ghouls run manchester schools / spineless swine, cemented minds / sir leads the troops, jealous of youth / same old suit since 1962,” and images like “bruises bigger than dinner plates.”
Pretty great.
Listening to it again, I started to think about all the music I listened to when I was a kid, and how cool it is is when that music, which is so important and remains so vivid for so many years afterwards, also turns out also to be really interesting and, yes, good.
What music did you have in your formative record collection or did you hear on the radio when you were younger, which you not only loved, but which you think also turned out to be good, very good, or even great? And for bonus points, can you describe how and why you assess the music in that way?

Pandora

The Pandora Team http://www.pandora.com/

17 thoughts on “Play Listen Repeat Vol. 35

  1. I’ve got to be honest that I am ashamed of the music I listened to in elementary school (Spice Girls) and during most of Junior High and High School I was a musical outcast. After I graduated I found pandora and that is where my musical listening education really began. For some unknowable reason I started listening to techno. I geuss it was to get away from my mom’s country but now that I reflect on it I really ask myself why. I really enjoy the music I listen to now (Jack Johnson, Mieka Pauley, Etc.), but there are songs every once in a while that I will hear that will take me back to a specific moment in time. I may not particularly enjoy the song but the memory that comes with it is amazing. So in answering your question there really aren’t any songs or artists I was in love with in the past that I still think are amazing. (Except maybe Eiffle 65).

  2. Michael,
    I wish I could echo your sentiments about finding the music of my childhood to have some sort of meaning now in my young-adult years. I was so caught up in the appendages of music (carrying a certain attitude, dressing a certain way, or listening solely to certain groups or genres) that I didn’t really have any ability to appreciate the music I listened to, I only felt it on a very surface sort of level. I use the word appendages because I think there are a lot of things loosely connected to music, such as those I have mentioned, but really have no purpose with music.
    Or do they?

  3. All we listened to in my high school years in my town was classic rock and Top 40. In 1985 I felt classic rock was someone else’s generation and the Top 40 of that time was just awful. Really bad, like We Built This City, The Heat is On, Sea of Love, and anything REO Speedwagon bad. I was set adrift in my college years looking for meaningful music to latch on to. The late 80s and early 90s brought New Jack Swing like Bel Biv Devoe and I was dying a slow death until I finally got wind of Jane’s Addiction, Tribe Called Quest, and eventually the sweet bliss of Pearl Jam.

  4. I’m convinced that I experience music quite differently than you do Michael. The thoughts you seem to have and the attention to detail you seem to have when you listen to music seem foreign to me. I would imagine the difference comes from your experience in the music industry. Because of that there are elements of music that you pick up that are lost on me. I can tell that I like a recording or don’t like a recording, but I really can’t assess how good it is in the scope of recordings. I generally don’t pay a lot of attention to the lyrics of a song. I’m taken in by certain phrases, clever verses and sections which just hit me. When I think a song is great, I don’t consider it to be significant to anyone other than myself. A song is great to me because it really works for me on many different levels and contains elements I love performed and recorded the way I like them. So, I’m afraid my early tastes don’t impact my listening quite the way that yours do for you.
    I was born in 1957, didn’t really get into music until I was about 12 and didn’t start purchasing records on a regular basis until I was 15. Of the artists I listened to between 12 and my early 20′s there aren’t a lot that I listen to with any regularity now. I still enjoy The Beatles most from that timeframe. Other artists from then I listen to regularly are Alice Cooper and Devo. I also put Bowie on from time to time, but not as much as the others.
    I’d say each of those artists had some music that I still think is great, but I’m not sure their music is great in the grand scheme of things. There are a lot of artists that I used to play all the time that I rarely listen to anymore. In fact I don’t have any digital music from most of these artists and I listen to digital music almost exclusively. Those groups include The Who, Yes, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Rick Wakeman, Walter/Wendy Carlos, Blondie, The Talking Heads, ELO, Synergy, The Cars, Tangarine Dream and many others.

  5. I’d like to hear a lot more news and information about the actual Pandora music player.
    There’s nothing wrong with this information about artists, or the latest Pandora meet-up, but it’s not information that’s relevant to me as a user of Pandora.

  6. I remember hearing Stevie Wonder on the radio (AM) when I was 7, and loving it. I just recently bought my first SW album, and it’s even better now than it was then!
    The Beatles. I was born in 1969, and when I was little my mother would wake me up singing “Here Comes the Sun”. They were on the radio all the time, and I always loved them. Of course, they’ve only gotten better to my more mature ears…
    Finally, Pink Floyd has become a band I listen to again. I liked them as a teenager, then grew to loathe them, based on the assault of overplay on classic rock stations. I still can’t listen to “The Wall”, but albums like “Wish You Were Here” and even “DSOTM” are more than tolerable now…and “Meddle”, well, it’s one of my favorites!

  7. Gentle Giant, Frank Zappa, Weather Report, Passport, Chick Corea, Return to Forever, Paul Winter, Billy Cobham, Pat Metheny, Tomita, Brand X, Brian Eno, Morton Subotnick, The Tubes.
    These are groups I listened to when I was a teenager and I can still listen to today. What I look for in music is creativeness, people who aren’t doing the same thing as everyone else, they’re pushing the envelope. I think that the best indicator of whether music is good or not is that if you like it and think it’s good, then it is. I think that music is so subjective that nobody can really say that something is good or not, they can just say that they think it’s good. I can tell you what I like about Gentle Giant’s music but I can’t really tell you why it’s good (does that make sense?). I like Gentle Giant because they used so many different musical devices in their compositions. I liked the fact that all of the individual lines were very different and fit together like a puzzle, I don’t think there were many if any unison lines. Also their lyrics were always interesting, not the same old boring stuff that you hear on the radio like ‘Oh baby, baby’ or ‘I’m cryin in my beer since you left’ etc.
    All I can say is that this is why I like their music and why it’s good to me. If you judge whether music is good by it’s popularity, then poor GG didn’t make the cut which I think is sad because they were very talented as composers and players, but that’s my opinion. I used to think it was because they were ahead of their time but a friend of mine came up with the idea that they would have been more successful if they had come out earlier. If you’re familiar with GG you might find this an interesting thought but I don’t want to try and explain this here, it would take too much space.

  8. loved the smiths, the cure, ministry, new order… pretty music alternative now or as it was known back in the day as new wave. i still till this day love this type of music, very nostalgic for me.

  9. This is probably not where I should be directing this question, but thought someone would know the answer. I love listening to all types of acoustic music. Is there a way that I can build a station on Pandora that has all types of acoustic versions?
    Thanks..

  10. I started my journey in a small surburban in N.J. in the mid 50′s. I earliest memories was from the RCA fidelity. Big band Jazz and Gospel, in the 60′s of my learning youth. I had the selection of Black AM radio and Rock and Roll broadcasting through the studios of Cousin Brucey.So while I twisted my way to Chubby Checker, I was also being subjected to The Monkees,James Brown,The Beatles,The Rolling Stones, The Temptations, and the Surpremes, Cream,and American Bandstand  I do this miss those golden days sometimes. Even though there was so much turmoil in our nation  with the civil rights movment  as well choas over seas. Some things have changed because of those ripples and other things….well; we seem to learn. The music of early teens, Jimi Hendrix,Sly And The Family Stone, Curtis Mayfield, Grand Funk Railroad, Crosby Seals And Nash, Stevie Wonder, Leslie West, The Allman Brothers, and the beat went on and on from AM to FM. These were the songs and musicians of my youth. They impacted my mind and opened my ears to the world of music of my adulthood,into my middle age and hopefully the joy will follow me into the gray and may People Get Ready play at my graveside surrounded grand children

  11. I remember Cindy Lauper singing Time After Time…I remember thinking how alone she looked how she tried to stand out so much that she finally did…I her music you can hear a certain sadness as well as a bit of satisfaction to her presents. Soft melody hard core voice soft voice hard core melody–Lot’s of Counter Action. I think she was lonely even though she made it…Now I just don’t know…. Saw her on the net looks the same only older..Don’t know if she ever found her niche.

  12. I’m with Sara, she posted a comment April 13 wherein she wondered if it would be possible to hear acoustic versions of songs exclusively. As a computer programmer I realize that this shouldn’t be much of a problem given the fact that you track over 400 different aspects of each tune in your database. This certainly would be a nice feature, a station based on several of these criteria could more accurately reflect what the listener desires. Granted you would have to limit the number of parameters so that database queries don’t get too complicated but I think it would be worthwhile. I also realize that this is basically what you do now, it’s just that you get your initial parameters based on an artist or song or group of artists. This shields us from the gory details but also removes a certain amount of control, I really think Sara has a good idea.

  13. Screw the acoustics crap. Hear the music as it was PLAYED ON THE RADIO!!! This is the whole point of Radio Genome…. This is a good idea, don’t let the artsy-fartsy elitists screw it up!!!!

  14. Look guys, I know this is my first night of exposure, but I have to wonder why 99% of my threads lead to total crapulence??. Is this an exercise in tolerance? Or is this a cynical attempt to market the bottom of the barrel through some future writer’s strike? Ick!!!!

  15. Appleseed -
    Thanks for your thoughts. Our goal is to guide you to be able to create Pandora stations you love. Sorry the stations have seemed a bit “bottom of the barrel” to you so far. I have confidence that Pandora can come up with some stations you enjoy…
    Sometimes stations do take a little bit of time to “train” to your tastes… Here’s several things to try that might improve your stations:
    - Entering a song to create a station is often better than entering an artist. This is because sometimes artists have broad repertoires. This can lead to some eclectic results.
    - Enter more than one artist/song into the station. This will add more appropriate songs to the playlist.
    - Add multiple songs or artists to a station by clicking the triangle next to the station name and selecting “Add more music to this station”.
    - Give feedback: thumbs up songs that do fit in the station, and ***thumbs down songs that don’t.***
    - To ban an artist from a station, just give two songs by that artist thumbs downs. Keep in mind, this is station-specific; it will only affect the station you’re currently listening to.
    - If you’re sick of a song, but don’t want to ban it from the station, you can always just click on ‘Guide Us’ and put the song “to sleep” for a month.
    - Consider only giving a thumbs up to a song when you like (almost) every aspect of a song, because each thumbs up will add more songs to your station, perhaps in a range that is wider than you had hoped.
    - Look here (http://blog.pandora.com/faq/index.html#88) for more info on creating and tuning Pandora stations.
    I hope all that helps.
    Good luck, and let us know if you have more questions / comments!
    Cheers,
    Lucia, from Pandora

  16. I totally LOVE Pandora Radio Free. It’s the only site where I can listen to music that I love and enjoy!! Thank you so much for being there!! I’m so frustrated that the local radio stations no longer play Classic Country Music:-(
    Oh, when the music stops because the “site” believes “I’m no longer listening” is because I turn on my computer to listen to my favorite music while I am working around the house. I don’t know what I would do without you!!
    I know I’m in the minority, and that is why Panda Radio is my savior! Thanks to much
    PLEASE! Keep my Classic Country Music alive!! Judie

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