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TMI Questions: Music Makes the People Come Together

So, when I saw this week’s topic I was positive it would take me a week to answer.  I don’t know of anything that has a bigger influence on my life, mood, mindset, point of view, point of reference… it is as all-encompassing and influential for me, as religion is for some people.  I would even go so-far as to say that music is my one true religion.  And I am devout, whether I am playing it, writing it, critiquing it, or listening to it. 

At a young age, music spoke to me in a way like nothing else has since.  Not even sex or love. Maybe working out… but I really think I work out so I can listen to music – so egg/chicken.   No, music was there first. 

And that’s just it.  When everything else in my life is flying off road, missing that curve, or going into a dead dive, music has always been there for me, to help me pull myself through.   That’s the power of it.  I tear up just thinking about it, as a big old Hammond organ starts swelling into a gospel choir. 

I may exist in the real world…

…but music is where I truly live. 

Questions designed to reveal Too Much Information


TMI Questions: Music Makes the People Come Together

How often and where do you listen to music?

What time is it?

And what time is it, now?

That’s how often I listen to music.  The only time I do not listen to it is when I want to/need to sleep.  I can’t listen to it then because, in order to sleep, I need an environment without stimuli.  If music is on, my ear catches it and my brain starts analyzing it – an annoying habit from years of listening, studying, and critiquing.

Oddly enough, I can listen to music while writing – as in, writing for this blog or the other things I work on.  I can’t listen to music while writing music – except for the song I’m working on.  My brain works in mysterious ways, but that is not one of them.

If a form of recorded music is not available, I will make my own, or make up my own.  It’s fun to see what music from the previous day surfaces in my head, especially first thing in the morning while I am desperately trying to resurrect my ever-dilapidating façade in the bathroom mirror. Yes, the sappiest Helen Reddy song can give my heart the lift that gravity denies the rest of me. 

While hiking I will sing, usually riffing something nonsensical while doing variations on an established theme.  Typically, it’s quite mundane, but yesterday was fun – very gospel-inspired.

I’m one of those ‘music is the soundtrack to my life’ kind of folks; a rather pretentious complex, to be sure.  But thinking of my life in terms of it happening to a fictional someone else is a means of coping.  Not a healthy means of coping, but, eh… whatever gets you through.

When was the last time you bought music in CD format?

Last week: Cher’s ‘Closer to the Truth’.  I still buy a hard copy, even though I burn digital copies.  This is so I have one at the gym and in my car.  The ‘actual CD’ rests in a 6’ X 3’ X 2’ cabinet which stands as a monument to my compulsive completionist streak and the evils of EBay. 

Now, I will buy the one-off single from an artist without seeking out a hard copy, but there are certain artists that I have been collecting for years and I like the chunkiness of those CD cases sitting side-by-side.  Yeah, I don’t get it, either.

I used to buy the ‘actual CD’ because I wanted the photos, lyrics, and the song credits – but now I rarely have time to listen to a CD or album the way I used to.  There was a time when I would sit for hours studying everything about a given release, including the publishing houses the songs were published under, such as Rumanian Pickleworks Music (name the artist/songwriter whose publishing house that is, without looking it up on the internet, and I will… be impressed and know a kindred spirit).   

Oh, and this is a recent thing…  CDs at rummage sales!  I love grabbing a handful of vaguely familiar CD’s that I remember being released and reviewed at an inexpensive price at a rummage sale or thrift store.  Typically I jam them into my car’s CD player (after cleaning them) and play spot-the-influence, or try to analyze why a given CD was a failure or success.  Actually, I have been thinking about writing about this practice (although it seems to me someone at the AV Club did something similar) – reviewing the odd CDs I find at a given rummage sale/thrift shop. 

Currently listening to: Jazmine Sullivan’s ‘Fearless’ (Surprisingly good!  Fun.), J.C. Chasez’s ‘Schizophrenic’ (Derivative fun.), a dance collection from 2005 featuring some of my favorite house tracks from that year ('How Did You Know?' – Mynt/Kim Sozzi,' Put ‘Em High' – Stonebridge/Therese, 'Easy As Life' – Deborah Cox, and my favorite: ‘Beautiful Things’ – Andain), The soundtrack to ‘The Ladies in Lavender’ (Joshua Bell), some opera singer (a tenor) I know nothing about, and Calvin Harris’ ‘I Created Disco’. 

Can’t wait to get to them all!  

Do you buy complete albums or just a song at a time? Is this different now because of iTunes?


I used to buy only hard copies, but with the shuttering of my favorite on-line dance music outlet (Perfect Beat, West Hollywood, CA) and a lack of time for EBay, I’ve given up chasing down CD singles for dance mixes.
Now, I simply go on-line and cherry pick the ones that please me.  And I only do that to use at zumba class and the gym.  I go to my gym at my place of work and the instructors allow me to play my mix CDs (as long as I burn them a copy). 

I don’t like I-Tunes much.  Nor do I really care for Amazon’s Cloud thing.  Both are problematic and the interface continues to baffle me.

I do it because there are no record stores anymore.  And I miss them.  They used to be my secondary libraries, where I would hang out and learn things.  Now we have the internet and sites like for that.  But, sigh… it’s not the same.

From whom do you purchase your digital music?

Amazon.  Just got in the habit (I order a lot of stuff on there for work).  Also – they provide you with an on-line ‘cloud’ to digitally store all the music you purchase from them – whether in digital or CD format.  This is great for ripping playlists, although, I must say, the Cloud’s interface makes for a lot of frustration.  Still it’s there, and you can download the music to any laptop/computer – provided you can figure out how to do that. 

I also like the pre-order option on Amazon, which I do for major releases.  I like to do my part for certain artists.  Pre-ordering helps build buzz and ends up looking good the week a new release debuts on Billboard’s weekly chart (Cher debuted at #3!). 

Yeah, I know… I don’t have a life.

Do you listen to satellite or internet radio? How about Podcasts?

Yep.  Love Pandora.  And Fusion Radio Chicago.

Pandora is a free service that allows you to build your own radio station based on artists you like.  They not only play music by the artists you select, but also introduce you to others you may like or styles that are similar to the one you have chosen.  It’s all very random and frequently the site’s choices can be mildly irritating (like my Steely Dan station, which Pandora keeps wanting to add Stevie Wonder songs to… I mean, other than the seventies, I don’t know what they have in common, really.)

No to podcasts.  Most of them are talk-oriented and I can’t stand talk radio and the ilk.  There are dudes at my gym that work out to hard rock stations that have shrill female jocks talking with dumb male jocks about the most inappropriate stuff.  Those morning shows are the worst. 

Of course, there are podcasts that are music oriented, huh.  But, no… I got enough going on and too little time as it is.

What are your favorite kinds of music?

I… huh, what?  What does that question even mean?  I can’t imagine choosing one format over another. 

I really love parts of everything  - even – gasp – rap (which I will admit is my weakest link).  I love R&B, Hip-Hop, Dance, Quiet Storm, House, Trance, Standards, Chill, Reggae, Easy-Listening, Classical, Classic Country, Power-Pop, Pop, Seventies Bubblegum Pop, Heavy Metal, Rock, Punk, Disco, Doo-Wop, Cosmopolitan Country, Singer/Songwriter, World, Bluegrass, blah, blah, blah.

Okay, so, Christian Rock leaves me cold, but then most of that stuff is pretty derivative, sappy, and inspirationally uninspired.  However, there are some phenomenal Christian artists out there aping many different popular styles or remaining true to gospel, like Amy Grant, Plumb, Mandisa, The Clark Sisters, The Winans, and crossovers like Owl City and The Script. 

One of my favorite songwriters (and that is a very long list) is responsible for much of today’s catholic mass music – Marty Haugen; whom I had the privilege of meeting in the mid-eighties, when I thought I knew everything and was estranged from the church.  My loss. He is a real nice guy.  And so is his wife.

But, no… in reality, much of that Christian stuff?  It’s pretty terrible.  You probably don’t ever want your car radio to get stuck on a Christian station – which may seem to be the case when driving through states such as Kansas and Nebraska.  (shudder)

Today's music_____!

Is derivative, technologically-influenced, cookie-cutter crap that is… marvelous!

I love it.  I eat it for breakfast.  There is so much going on and I love to spot the trends.  This year?  Everyone is paying homage to Mumford and Sons.  Two years ago it was Passion Pit.  And Michael Jackson (for better or worse) is everywhere. And Prince and Marvin Gaye... 

I do a yearly round up of favorites and those I think missed the mark.  It’s somewhat varied, but concentrates almost solely on Pop/Rock/R&B/Dance music.

I try to keep up with most of it.  Though, I must admit, it’s a losing battle in many respects. 

 I mean, keep in mind the decades of music that came before me and the number of decades of music I have lived through.  That’s a lot of music, information, trivia, history, and emotional connection to keep straight. 

You keep piling on, and after a point you want to say… no more.  I have enough.  Thank you.  

There simply are not enough hours in my life to listen to everything I would like to.  Those CD’s that sit in that cabinet?  Those albums that sit on those shelves?  Those music books and sheet music in that closet?  It’s like I’m at the world’s finest buffet, but my stomach is only so big.

I think that’s why I like the silence of sleep so much.  

What music is you guilty pleasure?

Hmmm.  I have many.  And none of them are really considered ‘good’ music (with exceptions), but that’s why they are called ‘guilty pleasures’.

Classic Barry Manilow (I know!)

Helen Reddy (What strange vocal affectations and song choices.)

Seventies Bubblegum Pop (The Defranco Family?  Paperlace?  Tommy James and the Shondells?  Stories?  The Sweet?  Spiral Staircase?)

All those wonderful/horrible story songs from the seventies (The Ballad of Billie Joe, Harper Valley PTA, Midnight Train to Georgia, The Night The Lights Went Out in Georgia, Angie Baby, Delta Dawn, Ruby and the Dancer, etc.)

Anything David Foster dripped his weird honey all over

Anything Phil Spector dripped his scuzzy weirdness all over

Oddly sung Singer/Songwriter albums from the mid-seventies (Carole Bayer Sager, Buzzy Linhart, Jimmy Webb, etc.)

Anything released on Buddha/Kama Sutra Records during the Seventies

Chicago (the group)(all incarnations/periods)


Dance Music circa 1998-2001

Gary Numan

Syrupy Movie Theme Ballads sung by female artists or female/male duets

Schmaltzy Female/Male Duets

Horribly Stilted Synth Driven 1980’s Pop Nightmares

Judy Garland at her worst

Barbara Streisand at her best


And much, much more…

That said… many of the things others consider to be crap, I elevate and admire.

So, in the ear of the beholder, am I right?

Have you heard a song recently that reminds you of someone?


Songs haunt me.  And my memories.  And they are always sad.  Or angry.  Rarely does a happy song make me think of a moment or a person.  What’s with that?

‘Love Tried to Rescue Me’ – Madonna


Can’t share that story.

‘People on a String’ – Roberta Flack

Yeah.  Not that one, either.


Do you play music to set the mood?

Depends on the dude and location. 

Oh, you mean, like romantic stuff?  Kissy-face, boyfriend-wanting, boo-baby-baby love-me-up time? 

Hell, no.  I don’t do that shit no more.  Uh-huh.  Not this sucker.  Sadder but wiser… that me!

There is a certain African American male I canoodle with that digs that whole pretense, though, and for him I will pull out the big guns:  Chante Moore’s ‘A Love Supreme’.  Honey… if you can’t get your man to give you some sugar when this CD is playing?  Then your trunk and junk must gotta a stunk, cuz this stuff is baby-making magic.   Mmmmm-hmmm. 

Once it's set, what do you play to keep the action moving?

For walk-in scenes and group activity?  FusionRadio Chicago’s dance is nice, current, and unobtrusive.  I like a good beat when I’m fucking back on some Daddy Mac – and will keep time with the music if everything is jelling and jamming.

But, yes, music of choice for getting off is dance music, in some form.

Oh, and you can never go wrong with Prince’s ‘Dirty Mind’ or Marvin Gaye’s ‘Here, My Dear’.

**(Hey, Sean.  I loved this topic (obviously) and hope you will follow-up with a couple more re: people and their music.  I would love to hear about songs people never want to hear again, albums they were obsessed with but now can’t bring themselves to play, the song playing when the first lost their (whatever).  Favorite break-up songs.  Top 10 favorite CD/Albums/Songs.  If you were going on a dessert island and could only take one CD/Album, what would it be?  Oh, this is such a rich vein.  Please bleed it a bit more.  Thanks for these questions.  Self-obsessed little-old-me just loves this stuff.)

Love Tried To Welcome Me - Madonna

When Did You Stop Loving Me (When Did I Stop Loving You) - Marvin Gaye

I'm What You Need - Chante' Moore

You Brought The Sunshine Into My Life - The Clark Sisters

People On A String - Roberta Flack


Queer Heaven said...

Love you answer to the question
Do you play music to set the mood?

Shit..I Do not do that any more either!

whkattk said...

I'm very into music. Been so for as long as I can remember. I've got acetate 78rpm's as far back as the 30's, 45's from the 50's, 60's, and 70's, all the way up to CD's of today. And, because I was a dancer, lots of Broadway stuff is in the mix.

Used to listen to The Moody Blues "Nights in White Satin" to set the mood...

Ray's Cowboy said...

Love nights ins white satin.. thanks for sharing it with us.


Anonymous said...

can the first guy come to my place and play music?

O!Daddie now at said...

No Salsa? No Celia Cruz? Que Lastima!!

I haven't purchased music in many years- Thank Heaven for Pandora and YouTube. I also have to admit that I frequently surf my cable TV music stations - there's nothing to watch on 100 channels, so why waste the monthly $$$.

Anonymous said...

it makes you gay its as simple as that. LOL!