I have a weird relationship to music. More often than not, I will not listen to it. Not because I don’t like music, but because I find that if there’s music on, I cannot focus or concentrate on anything else. And also, if there’s music on, I have to dance! It seems to be physically impossible for me to listen to music that I like and not move my body, even if I’m doing so while sitting down. But music as background noise? That’s not for me.
Even weirder, though, is exactly what kind of music I enjoy. I basically like all music, no matter the genre. But what music I chose to listen to seems to depend entirely on who I’m with. I am like a chameleon in my musical tastes, forever changing to suit my company.
I got my first Walkman when I was 12. And the first tape I bought for it was Kylie. Because my best friend had the same tape. We’d listen to it in her car, on the journey to her parents holiday cottage at weekends.
The following summer, I hung out with my Turkish-Iranian cousin. Who was into Madonna. And so, I was into Madonna. I bought every single one of her albums on tape, memorised all the lyrics. We both sang along while swinging in hammocks in my aunt’s garden in Turkey.
Every summer in Turkey, a different Turkish pop singer would have a summer hit. And I bought all their tapes too. And learnt a lot of Turkish that way.
When I was 14, I hung around with people who were into rock, metal and related genres. I had progressed to a DiscMan at this stage and would walk home to the beat of Enter Sandman. I memorised every lyric. I bought music magazines and studied them intensely.
When I was 16, I became friends with a girl who studied, and eventually taught, singing and piano. So, I suddenly became into all things Musical Theatre, as well as a Capella and choral music. We were both huge fans of the Irish choral group Anuna, even following them on tour around Ireland. She would later go on to join them. Again, I bought all their albums and listened to their songs religiously, memorising all the lyrics.
My ‘Kylie-loving’ friend had progressed by now to Irish traditional music, but especially more modern ones, like the band Kila. If you ever have the change to see this band live, I would highly recommend it. And of course, I soon followed them around the country.
In university, I dated a doctor who moonlighted as a bass player in a blues band. So, of course, I was suddenly into the blues, and jazz.
And now, my husband enjoys listening to reggae and dubstep. So, that’s my favourite genre at the minute.
And yes, it ‘seems’ like my musical tastes are fickle and insincere. But, I assure you, this is far from true. When someone I like is enjoying music, I pick up on their joy and enthusiasm and it permeates through every part of me. I think it is related to my hyper-empathy. I genuinely adore the music they are listening to, with every sense of my body. It is not fake or put on.
So, if music brings someone I’m with joy, then it brings me joy. But as to the particular genre, it does not matter so much to me. I seem to be genre-neutral, if that’s a word! Because ultimately, music for me is about feelings, both from the beat and the lyrics. And it’s about being able to share in the joy with someone else. And as I’m not the best in being able to make friends or bond with others, music allows me to do so, in an easy and accessible way.