21 Music Questions Answered

A few weeks ago (what can I tell you? I’ve been busy), the prolific Fandango posted his answers to 21 questions about musical tastes, set by another blogger. This gave me the idea of doing something similar, if only to relieve the thin and no doubt tedious diet of ‘One-Liner Wednesdays’ and ‘Song Lyric Sundays’ to which this blog has shrunk over the past year. So here are my answers.

  •  1. How important is music in your life?

I could live without it, I suppose, on the basis that I’d rather be deaf than blind, for example. That’s not to say, though, that it isn’t important to me, I cared enough about it to post a series of ‘My Music Lexicon’ throughout last year.

I like to listen to music purely for pleasure but also as a diversion when I’m undertaking some other task that doesn’t require too much concentration but in which I have no inherent interest. Like anything involving physical exertion or the risk of getting my hands dirty.

  • 2. What are your most and least favourite types of music?

I mostly listen to the music of my formative years (doesn’t everyone?), so I suppose that in the very broadest terms that would be classic rock. I also like what could be described as ‘modern’ folk (i.e. Bob Dylan rather than blokes in oversized sweaters singing about dead sailors or, God help us, Morris Dancing).

On the other hand, I can’t abide rap. Or hip-hop. Or thrash metal. Or boy bands…the list goes on.

  • 3. Do you own a music collection or do you simply listen to whatever on whatever?

I most definitely have a music collection. Close to a thousand (yes, that’s right) Grateful Dead concert recordings for a start: the official releases plus shows downloaded from archive.org.

I also have a couple of hundred CDs – although I no longer possess a CD player. Additionally, I have quite a big collection of albums and playlists on Spotify, of which I am a major fan.

  • 4. Are you a singer, a hummer, or a whistler?

None. I’m told that I tap my foot on occasion. This does not go down well.

  • 5. Show through links your five best songs?

Blimey, I couldn’t even pick my five favourite ‘`Dark Stars’ (although Rotterdam 1972 would be one of them). Leaving aside the Grateful Dead, I do have a Spotify playlist called ‘Desert Island’ – just in case I ever get invited on to ‘Desert Island Discs’. Here, in no particular order, are five songs from that list:

  • 6. Have you ever been to an outdoor concert?

Many, many times.

  • 7. Do you ever go out to listen to music live? When was the last time you went to a concert/gig?

Not any more, apart from ‘enthusiastic amateur’ bands on occasional music nights at local bars. I think the last ‘proper’ gig I went to was Eric Clapton in Abu Dhabi seven or eight years ago. Sensational.

  • 8. Do you sometimes feel like dancing when you hear music? Under what circumstances do you dance?

Not really. I find music to be more of a mental than a physical experience. I listen to music almost exclusively with earphones. I like it loud, with other distractions excluded. Plus, I’d probably get shot if I didn’t. My tastes are not universally shared.

  • 9. When do you listen to music?

I tend to listen to music when I have the opportunity to devote a decent length of uninterrupted and unhurried time to it. I don’t feel the need to fill every minute of my life with a backing track.

  • 10. If you answered yes to Questions 6 & 7 – who did you go and see?

Too many to list exhaustively. Some of the shows I remember most fondly: Grateful Dead (twice); Pink Floyd (four times); The Who; The Doors; Ten Years After (twice); the Beach Boys. So that’s me pigeon-holed.

  • 11. Is there a song that makes you emotional?

Let’s just say that some resonate more than others. ‘Stella Blue’ (Grateful Dead); ‘Bird On The Wire’ (Leonard Cohen); ‘Without You’ (Nilsson); ‘Going Back’ (Dusty Springfield). There are more.

  • 12. Do you feel that you have a special connection with some types of music? Which types?

‘Spacy’ stuff – Pink Floyd; Set 2 Grateful Dead. Also what you might call ‘miserable’ or ‘lonely bedsit’ songs – e.g. Leonard Cohen

  • 13. Have you ever tried singing in a karaoke bar? What was the experience like?

No. I wouldn’t inflict that on anybody – and would appreciate the courtesy being returned.

  • 14. Do you listen to music when writing? If so which?

Sometimes, yes. Usually baroque classical or plainsong. I’d rather concentrate on listening to my favourite music than having it just burbling away in the background like muzak.

  • 15. Have you ever gone to see a musical? What was it?

I’ve been to a few, although it’s not really my genre. The first one was ‘Hair’, I think. The last one was Gilbert & Sullivan’s ‘Mikado’. In between I recall taking the kids to ‘Starlight Express’.

  • 16. Do you know the lyrics to all the songs you like?

Certainly not, although I find it fascinating how lyrics to songs I haven’t listened to for years come flooding back when they start playing.

  • 17. When you are listening to music – are you listening just to the music itself or the lyrics too?

That really depends on the type of music. Lyrics don’t really come into a ‘Drums>Space’, whereas the melody of something like ‘Desolation Row’ is largely incidental.

  • 18. Do you listen to music when you go cycling/jogging or when you’re working out at the gym? [or any other physical activity]

I couldn’t cope with sitting on my exercise bike or mowing the lawn without it. I have an ‘Exercise’ playlist on which the first three tracks are ‘Born To Run’, ‘The Wheel’ and ‘The Immigrant Song’ – you get the idea. Garden work is a good opportunity to listen to a complete Dead show.

  • 19. Many operas are in French, Italian or German. If you listen to opera, do you understand the libretto or are you happy to get the gist?

I listen to (bits of) opera sometimes. I used to have a big thing for Wagner’s Ring Cycle – but that’s the prime example of the music rather than the words telling the story.

  • 20. Are you deleting any questions, if so which ones?


  • 21. Do you enjoy watching music videos? What sort of music videos do you enjoy most?

I do, although to me the video element is largely incidental – unless it’s a concert video. Live music is almost always superior to studio.





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