Friday, August 13, 2010

Searching for Shooting Stars

 (Dammit, this is what I want to see!)

Last night I looked for meteors in the eastern sky but saw only one brief streak through all the light pollution in town. The same thing happened last year: I stared out the window for an hour and saw one meteor instead of a deluge. Granted, I know nothing about meteor showers; I do know I'm supposed to go out in the country in the middle of the night and be patient, but I always sort of remember the shower at the last minute and still somehow hope to catch parts of it anyway. Are my expectations too high? Did anyone see the Perseids meteor "shower" Thursday night?

Sometimes I feel this way when I'm looking for new music: there's a whole lotta searching and only one shooting star in the bunch. I read Paste when I see it laying around, and I check out iTunes, and I listen to KCOU, and I sometimes remember to stream Pandora, and I read other people's music blogs, but I don't have as much time to sit and be patient these days.

A coworker recently asked me what I listen to. He's an older guy in his late forties, and he explained that the last artist he really liked was Natalie Merchant.

He loved Tiger Lily, but since then, all bands have sounded like Coldplay imitators to him. Oh, and he likes Eminem.

Okay, so where do I go with this? We have a pretty broad spectrum of possibilities between Natalie Merchant and Eminem, with the dead zone of Coldplay somewhere in the middle. I recommended KCOU to him, but I realize in retrospect that this was pretty lazy and weak. I suspect he got in his car that night, turned on KCOU, caught five seconds of Deerhoof, and no longer trusts my opinion.

To make up for this, I thought I could make him a cd and put safe stuff on it like Hem and Neko Case and Damien Rice and anything else acoustic. Maybe one of the most interesting things about making a mixed tape for someone else is realizing along the way how you think of them. My coworker is open to new things, but he also has a talking Yoda on his desk, and on Wednesday nights he goes home and destresses with his own made-up version of tai chi.

 (This is not my coworker, but I imagine this is what he looks like doing his rogue tai chi.)

I don't think we'll be exchanging Surfer Blood cds anytime soon. But the challenge remains to share some new music with him and see what he thinks. More likely, my shooting stars will be his light pollution.

I face a similar challenge in the Mix CD Smackdown when I try to introduce our friends to some new music and make a better cd than my partner in musical crime. I don't have to play it safe like I do with my coworker, but I still have to try to cater to the tastes of others and also win the contest.

Filtering for others' likes and dislikes makes it hard to spot new music for a specific project. One person's Bonnie Raitt is another person's Susan Tedeschi. For example, we all got into a discussion the other night about Pink Floyd versus Led Zeppelin versus the Grateful Dead versus the Who. (The general consensus is that Led Zeppelin rocks, but we were equally divided on our love and hatred for the other three bands.)

As for my coworker, perhaps I should suggest 30 Seconds to Mars? "Kings and Queens" is used in everything these days—movie previews, sports coverage, commercials, muzak, American Idol, Glee, weddings, bar mitzvahs, porn, etc. Curse you, Jared Leto for finding a way to actually get paid for that.


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  2. Hit him with Central Reservation by Beth Orton, The Trinity Session by Cowboy Junkies, and try to shoehorn Bavarian Fruit Bread by Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions in there. He's got to like one of those.

  3. Those are all excellent suggestions. It's been a long time since I've listened to The Trinity Sessions, but I used to leave that cassette in my tape deck for weeks on end. I may have worn it out.