"Easy Listening"

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I listen to a lot of different kinds of music. Yes, I even subject myself to stuff that Erik calls "absolutely gorgeous" and which I find essentially indistinguishable from cicada song except perhaps in volume. I want to learn to listen to new things and I readily admit some are beyond me.

But the horrible little secret that I don't even really try to keep from any one, is that I have a real liking for classics, remakes of classics, and certain varieties of what is variously called "Tiki-music" or "Space Age Bachelor Pad Music." (This does not extend to the wheezy electronic organ or skating rink music that sometimes accompanies these things.)

I brought some in to work to add to my iTunes and I know someone here who really enjoys "The Exotic Moods of Les Baxter" as much as I do. She made a comment this morning that hit the nail on the head for me. "It is somehow so soothing and calming." It is indeed, and I have no real explanation for why. I find certain composers and styles very soothing. There may be real virtuosity in the composition, but I regard the music largely as background sound--more than white noise, I think, because the sound probably helps even out the daily spikes in blood pressure that come when someone approaches your desk with something that is manifestly NOT your responsibility and begins to discuss the problem. (Or worse yet--it IS your problem/fault.)

So I admit, I like the light sounds of Les Baxter, Martin Denny, Henry Mancini (in his own original compositions, not general in his reconstruction of others.) I like Rosemary Clooney, Early Frank Sinatra, and all the classics. I even like Bette Midler and Rod Stewart and Linda Rondstadt and Cyndi Lauper redoing "I Only Have Eyes for You," or "Stardust."

I don't listen to these things all the time. I also like Vivaldi, Varese, Ligeti, Ravi Shankar, Brad Paisley, Ultravox, Bill Nelson, Arvo Part, Aine Minogue, Loreena McKennit, and any number of other styles/types/artists. You might say I am catholic in my tastes. The less charitable would say (not without reasonable support) that I am undiscriminating in my choices. But there's a wide world of music out there and I have stopped trying to make a point by abhorring this or that popular artist or genre. Instead, I put on my headphones and listen to Tina Turner and am reminded for a moment of what beautiful things people can do and produce. And that is a comfort and a world that seems intent upon ugliness.

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I'm excited to see another Loreena McKennit fan out there. I absolutely love her music. I love music by Enya, and Secret Garden. There is a music chanel out there on Winamp called Groove Salad that I really like to work to. It's very rythmic, and kind of physcadelic (for lack of a better term), and I find it really keeps me focused on my work.

I have a pretty broad range of music that I like, in fact there is probably something in each genre that I like. Genres such as heavy metal and rap I generally find quite annoying, but a rare, and I do mean rare song will occasionally get a nod from me.


I am a huge fan of Space Bachelor Pad Tiki Music (Martin Denny is a particular favorite of mine). If you like that stuff, might I recommend Astor Piazzola with Gerry Mulligan? It is not exactly Lex Baxter, et al, but it has a similar feel to it.

There is a very good public radio show out of Ohio that I check out on the internet of all this stuff (RadioLounge or something). When I find the url, I will post it on my blog. Maybe I will put some other similar lounge links on there.

Of course as I write this I am, purely by coincidence, listening to Stockhausen's Hymnen, which is more on the radioactive cicada side of the bar, but equally lovely.

Dear Erik,

Well, this is the second time today I've been shocked, surprised, and gratified by a post/comment. I wouldn't have thought it of you. (Martin Denny is also in my top two list, and I'll be looking for the album/group you mentioned.) Thank you. You are ever full of (pleasant) surprises.



Oh, I can't wait to check out the radio show! Thanks for all these great suggestions.

Have you heard the soundtrack to "The Incredibles"? You might like it, particularly "Life's Incredible Again" and "Off to Work".

Fans of those cool retro sounds may like the combo "Pink Martini" (heard much on public TV). Nicely enough, their website even give mp3s of their two albums.

I posted the link on my blog. It is from Kansas, not Ohio (look, they are both among the eight or nine states that I have never been to, so don't hold it against me that I can't keep them straight).

The url is www.kpr.ku.edu/retro.

If you are an iTunes user, you can find some great lounge radio on there, too.



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on November 28, 2006 9:50 AM.

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