I'm about to do my semi-annual update of my Pandora playlists, which is always fraught and weird, because in general, I have to make a new playlist entirely and that means starting with a new base. Eventually, each playlist hardens, and I may love most of the songs there now, for reasons every new song they play on one of those I will now hate.
So: new playlist, new base, and the old way--not efficient--was to go through my bought music (and...not so very bought), find the ones that combine showing up on mulitple writing playlists, grab the last five I downloaded from my Amazon subscription, and create the base from those. In general, this meant Pandora would get me new music that matched my taste, but burnout still happened; eventually, it would harden and stop giving me anything.
Which makes no sense: this is a meticulously self-curated list by me combined with an algorithm by experience I know works. And yet, the hardening, every time. Which means I have to retire a playlist--not delete--for a while before I can listen it for anything but long walks.
But here's the thing: about two thirds of the songs I don't like as it turns out I love and will die for, but not if I hear them on one of those playlists. I have to hear them somewhere else.
Examples: I hated Mumford and Sons, every song, and yet, at this moment, I have the better part of an album of them and the gold standard is four songs from an artist. Same with Florence and the Machine, Broods, Metric, Imagine Dragons, Andrew McMahon: all of them, at one time or another, got thumb-the-fuck-down in Pandora--I checked this--until I heard them in a different context. Vids are a really good way but a goddamn trailer or commercial or in a store or the mall or while surfing youtube when I am bored enough to hate myself.
There are some obvious explanations--vidding, for example, is a translation, and some songs just work by association even if they're not generally to my taste. Which I think is the explanation: for reasons unclear, this song is outside my hardened playlist, and that means my taste has hardened unacceptably and it's time for a full reboot.
This is why the playlist update has to happen, no exceptions. Hardened taste atrophies your ear; you only hear noise. That way ends with hating everything not made after 1979 or 1989 (...please tell me those people don't exist) or 1999, pick a year. Which is ridiculous because who the fuck wants to miss My Chemical Romance and the Dixie Chicks and Beyonce, are you crazy? It blows my mind; no, I don't love everything in the top one hundred, but I never loved everything in the top 100, but I guarantee you thirty I won't mind listening to, ten I like and one I will love. I honestly have yet to find a genre I hate; I may not love it, but there is always several that I like, and one thing I love.
You know that feeling you get with some songs; it's like getting a hard hit of something seriously good and likely illegal except it's better. It almost hurts; you put it on repeat one and play it forever, you hear it when you're going to sleep, your walk matches the beat. No song can do it forever, but that's the point; if I want it, I have to chase it.
It's not just music, though; it's everywhere, but it's not something you get sitting still; you have to chase it and sometimes, you have to be willing to run. It's when I'm coding and suddenly, all the pieces come together and I compile and run and it's perfect; when I'm writing and the words I was fighting flow together and become a scene, a story; when I read something--it can be the whole book, a page, a paragraph, a single line, and it stops me short because I forgot to breathe; a speech I heard once did it, that was weird; when I was lead in two plays, and the second one, at the end, everyone stood up; every basketball game I ever played and the time I got second in the four hundred that I didn't even know I was supposed to run and I almost blacked out when I reached the finish line.
Like, for that second, I get what it must have been like at the cusp of Creation, the vastness of infinite nothing. One command, given to infinity, and the first light to exist illuminated the universe in the form of newborn stars across an infant universe; this is everything. What a fucking rush.
The universe is in infinite expansion and everything is out there and we have so little time; you can't stop, not for a second. You're going to have to chase it down, and sometimes, you're going to have to run.
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