Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Listening habits of the leadership class

The media has taken great interest in the recorded music tastes of politicians, with the Ipod listings of C. Rice and H. Clinton in particular receiving thorough scrutiny and analysis. The balances between genres and the relative political leanings of those genres are hot topics, as is the possibility that a politician may be hedging in public about the true nature of their listening habits. Is one of them purposely slanting her purported workout list to the MOR? Or is another watering down her list with pop standards so as not to appear too highbrow ?

The pointlessness of this exercise is that musical tastes are being represented by Ipod frequency-of-play lists. But don't we all know that the music we love most is not the music we utilize the most? The music that we use functionally -- to get to sleep or to exercise or to do housework by -- has to fullfill criteria quite independent of whether it is the "music we like most". In fact, it may often help that such functional music is music that we can hear without listening to it closely. And the music that we really love? Well, we tend to treasure it and take it in measured doses and only at the right time and circumstance in order to give that music all the attention it demands.

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