I’ve been thinking lately about doing a thing, as an exercise, that is writing about listening to records and consuming food and drink after work. This is my favorite part of work, and I thought I could share it with the ether. I thought about making it it’s own thing but I’ve done nothing with the things I already have so maybe I’ll just do it here for now.
The music I listen to at work is subtly calculated. As an “independent contractor” (or, “sucker,” as some, including myself might put it) I am allowed the small freedom of choosing the music I listen to at work. However, working with the public I impose limits to this freedom for myself with the hope that I’ll avoid questions like “what is this?” and “you seriously like this?” and “this sounds like shit.” and “you’re an asshole.” Note: the last two are not questions, but are generally stated with an inflection demanding an answer and threatening violence should one not materialize. I am also limited practically, by technology, in that I can only listen to music via iPhone or FM radio. Apps such as Spotify and Pandora provide some relief from my own mp3 library, but I work a lot, and if I were to utilize these wonderful tools constantly I would surpass my allotted monthly bandwidth very quickly.
I am left, as I suggested, with the most physical of digital music. A selection which is certainly not unsubstantial, but limited further by an undefined public taste. This is the reason for elevator music, the tepid and insipid earworms reverberating off of countless racks of Cream of Wheat across the country. Being a fairly passive individual, and having a distaste for the mundane repetition of certain scenarios, I’ve selected my own version of elevator music. While I have no official rules for these selections, I have some unofficial loose qualifications. Pop song structure is generally good, something the brain does not have to work too hard to understand and can be ignored if need be. Nothing too challenging. Upbeat is a plus. I’ll cater to a person’s taste given the opportunity if time and resources allow, but this doesn’t come up often. If someone is unnecessarily rude, all bets are off. Merzbow is not off limits in this case.
That said, I frequently wind up listening to the same few albums or artists again and again over the course of a week, month, or even several months and even when they are some of my favorite artists, it starts to drag. Heavy hitters in the rotation over the last few months have been Tom Waits, Thee Oh Sees, El-P, Tyvek, The Replacements, The War on Drugs, Bruce Springsteen, and several others. I love all of these artists, like I said, but tend to lean towards music with more challenging structures, harsher sounds, and less typical timbres, etc.
This is one of the reasons that the part of my current job I enjoy most is coming home to my record collection and becoming reacquainted with old friends. I’ll document some of this ritual here, starting tonight, briefly, with Amen Dunes. One of my favorite discovery’s of the past couple of years, not unlike if Jandek tried to be a pop star, as a (primarily) solo guitar and voice held together with a loose structure and a sort of outsider ethos. I’ve rambled long enough to get too far in now, but I’ll surely find myself back here soon enough. It pairs nicely with the jasmin green tea I’m drinking, but I should remember tomorrow to buy some nice cheese and maybe a Tripel with a bite to it.