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Monday, October 20, 2014

Honestly, who chooses friends according to their musical tastes?

Dan Brooks in the New York Times argues that since streaming music has made the same music available to everybody it's no longer possible to identify kindred spirits by the fact that they like the same as you do.

He says that in the old days "the bands you listened to conveyed not just the particular elements of culture you liked but also how much you cared about culture itself".

It's very well-argued. It's also wrong.

If there's one thing I've learned in the course of a life spent listening to music it's that liking the same music is no more an indicator of your likelihood of getting on with people than you both happening to have bought the same sweater.

I've met raging bores who like the same things I like. I've got bosom pals whose choice of music I wouldn't be paid to listen to. And I also strongly suspect that anyone who sets that much store on what music you listen to is the kind of person who knows the sub-genre of everything and the value of nothing.

It's not music that bonds people. It's the attitude to music.


  1. I've had some fierce arguments over music with most of my dearest friends. There aren't that many who like the same music as me, even my wife. Most of them know how to wind me up easily. But it's not the music that's kept us friends for so many years.

    Isn't diversity something to cherish?

    Mind you, my best friend's wife won't allow him to play King Crimson or the Bonzos in their house.

  2. "the kind of person who knows the sub-genre of everything and the value of nothing".

    Isn't that an Oscar Wilde quote?

  3. But there are those of us old enough to remember going back to a girl's flat/student room for the first time, and flicking through the vinyl LPs propped up against the wall, for the kind of indication of awareness and attitude that might also be revealed by the books on the bookshelf and the posters on the wall...

  4. The line from "High Fidelity" is something like "it's what you like, not what you are like, that matters". As much as I like Nick Hornby's writing, this is complete rubbish.

  5. The book is about the fact that it's complete rubbish.

  6. You have a point, at the end the guy makes his girlfriend a tape of music she likes and not music he thinks she should like. I can't help but think that it's Hornby talking when he says that line though.

  7. There is the dinner party where he realizes he likes these people even though they have Tina Turner and Barbra Dickson albums

  8. Does the same thing apply to a sense of humour?

  9. "nice people can have bad record collections" is something like the line. God, it's a hard thing to learn when you are young. Now I can keep my mouth shut, if not always the look off my face.
    Several people asked quite pointedly if I had read that book.