What I Listen to when I don’t have to Listen to Anything

a really good practice habit that i got into years ago (even before the carpel tunnel and the tendonitis) was listening to the music that i was practicing. not while i was doing it, duh, but afterwards. i can remember listening to recordings of my competition pieces (not by me, but professional recordings) and my college audition pieces, for hours on end. on the bus to and from school, sometimes even while i was working (stocking shelves at the supermarket oh so long ago), and when i would sleep at night. it was really helpful, because i could listen to it and think about it without the distraction of physically having to do it.

then i got carpel tunnel and i just couldn’t practice as much as i wanted to. listening as an additional means of practicing became a very valuable tool.

so a lot of the music i listen to, i listen to for “work.” by the time this year is out i think i’m going to be sick of these 27 club songs (even though the doors have a permanent fixture on my “list of favorite bands, ever.”) simply because for maybe a week or two at a time, i am only listening to the same 10 – 15 songs. that’s a lot of time to be listening to the same songs.

so when i don’t have to listen to something, what do i listen to and why is it important? well, i happen to think it’s important because the stuff i listen to, when i don’t have to listen to it, still really influences my playing. some music more than others, of course, but they’re all still worth mentioning.

so here it is, in “as i think of them” order.

ani difranco. i’ve never actually sat down and done a tally, but i would estimate that i have somewhere around 85 – 95% of her entire discography. right now, a playlist consisting of only ani on my iTunes is about 20 hours long.
the rolling stones. i like the early to middle stuff that they did. the stuff they’ve churned out in the past ten years or so is still pretty good, but i like the gritty, bluesy, rocksy stuff they did when they were in their twenties.
led zeppelin. see rolling stones.
frank sinatra. this just brings back nice feelings about my childhood. i listened to a lot of frankie when i was a kid.
status green. if ever i need waking up, which is actually quite often, firebomb usually does it for me.
tori amos. only because she reminds me that keyboards can be sexy, cool, mysterious and intricate while still remaining on the borderline of the mainstream. remember when tracks from boys for pele was getting play on Z100? no? i do. it was craziness. that album, i’m pretty sure, kind of changed my life.
gogol bordello. this is the kind of punk rock i was born to listen to. it’s infectious, it’s gypsy, it’s freaking awesome. eugene is a master lyricist, and english isn’t even his first language!
voloshky. their vocal harmonies can halt a conversation in my household.
the beatles. i used to kind of not like them. i was going through a “rebelling against my mother” phase and my mother was a teeny bopper in the 60s who was crazy about the beatles. so for awhile, on principle, i refused to be crazy about them. got to college, sat through theory III with dr bob where he used pretty much only the beatles for listening examples, and i started to really grow to like them. probably when i’m over the 27 club thing, i’ll put together a beatles playlist.
the bad touch. see status green.
little dipper. i’ve been to more little dipper shows than i can count and i still can’t tell you what it is i like about these guys. they are just good. i am a fan of a number of their songs, and of course, the biggest fan of the one random song that they rarely play at a show because it’s a really slow one. does that give me more stret cred? that i like an obscure song by a local band?
rick barry. but don’t tell him. his ego is big enough.
weezer’s blue album. hands down this might be the best album, start to finish, ever written.
indie female musicians, mostly from new jersey. no, that’s pretty much the truth. i went to my tigerlily pink playlist to see if i could find a few that i really really like but i couldn’t even make a decision. so here’s the entire playlist, in ABC order: alix olson, amanda duncan, april smith, chelsea genzano, colleen coadic, cyndee lee rule, the dresden dolls, feathermerchants, gina catalano, the gutterbunnies, joanna burns, joy simone, judy aron, melissa anthony, rachel sage, sarah donner, seeking through silence, stephanie white and the new jersey philth harmonic, tegan and sara.

so there it is. what i listen to when i don’t have to listen to anything. sometimes, too, i just listen to silence. after a long day of teaching at the elementary school, with screaming kids and singing kids and crazy kids (i love em all), when i get in my car sometimes i don’t even bother turning the radio on.