The Harmless Icebreaker

“What kind of music do you like?”

If someone wants to see me become incredibly awkward and defensive at a moment’s notice, all they need to do is walk up to me and ask me that dreaded question. I’d much rather have someone ask me to clean their toilet. Especially when we both know that he or she doesn’t actually care about my musical tastes.

I recognize that the stranger asking me this question is only searching for common ground that will allow us to move on to more specific topics. Despite this, I still manage to find myself trying to think of ways to avoid judgment. Because I put so much stock into what I listen to and enjoy, everyone around me will do the same and look down on me if they find my taste inferior, right?

So how to go about this? Naming major genres I like is too broad and comes with a multitude of exceptions that I don’t want to list. How do I tell someone that I like Johnny Cash but not Brad Paisley? Or explain that I can’t get enough Big Boi and Beastie Boys, but that Lil’ Wayne and Rick Ross have done major harm to rap’s longevity and viability?  On the other hand, simply naming individual artists I enjoy is too narrow and defeats the purpose of this conversational exercise. I could narrow it down to my favorite sub-genres and list a few of them, but that just opens a different can of worms, doesn’t it?

Oh, you don’t know what freak folk is? It’s what you get when you take traditional folk instrumentation and ideals then mix them with a more contemporary avant-garde song structure and mid-sixties psychedelia. Vashti Bunyan was really far ahead of her time with this style in the seventies, but it became more appreciated in the early aughts when Devendra Barnhart and Joanna Newsom… What’s that? You think I’m crazy and are going to talk to someone else now? That’s probably a good idea.

No, that won’t work. First impressions only come around once and I don’t want to seem like the hipster elitist that I really am deep down . I need to keep it short and simple. It would be a mistake to start talking my mouth off when I just met this person.  I don’t want to scare them off by being over-talkative on our first meeting. But what if I seem too curt? If there’s one thing people hate, it’s people who talk as though they are disinterested in the conversation taking place.

Oh no, they’ve noticed I haven’t said anything yet.

I’m out of time. They’re starting to look around for someone to pull them from this pit of deceased conversation. I need to think of something quick. Nothing I could say at this point would be more awkward than continuing to stand here not saying anything. At this point, I don’t care if they like me or not, I just need this nightmare to end.

“You know, I pretty much like whatever, as long as it’s good.”

  • Maury Holliman

    SO true. so so true. These thoughts literally run through my mind everytime someone asks me that haha