I have no desert island playlist

by Nicole Lee

With the talk of mixtape nostalgia and the new iTunes Genius random playlist generation, I am once again revisiting my seemingly unusual indifference toward music. I like music, really, I do. I have a last.fm account, I listen to Pandora occasionally, and I have a healthy music collection in my iTunes library.

But I’ve never obsessed over it. If I hear a song I like on the radio, I don’t really care to find out the artist, or the name of the song. If one day I happen to lose my entire music collection, I really wouldn’t care too much about it. I am horrible at music trivia, because I also don’t care to remember song lyrics, and I don’t care to remember who sings what. I just know I like songs with good rhythm, decent lyrics, and preferably a great musical hook.

(As a disclaimer, there are certain artists I tend to gravitate to. TMBG and Jonathan Coulton, mostly due to the geek factor and I like the lyrics. I also like catchy pop/techno tunes, like a lot of Daft Punk stuff. Indie pop is satisfying as well, but I can’t remember any artists names right now. See, this is what I mean by not caring enough to remember these things).

I’ve never ever created a mixtape. Of anything. I just never cared enough to do it. I do create playlists for running, but that’s a very different sort of thing. I also don’t have the quintessential “desert island playlist”.

It’s strange, but I think that this characteristic is probably one of the most isolating factors of my young adult life. Just like being a geek separates me from the jocks, just like being a minority female separates me from the white male majority, it’s this indifference toward music that has isolated me from involvement in typical twenty-something behavior. I don’t attend concerts (I have no desire to), I don’t read liner notes, I don’t know the difference between young Bowie and old Bowie, etc. I’m just mostly lost when it comes to this stuff.

And because I don’t get involved in this subculture, in this sort of community, I think I miss out on critical youth bonding moments. I think I miss out on the sort of thing that binds people together. You might say that I have other “bonding mechanisms” like pop culture and geek stuff, but music is such an integral part in so many people’s lives that it’s quite a different thing. Music is lifeblood to many people. To me, it isn’t.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this. I guess what I’m trying to say is I think part of why I’m sometimes weirdly neurotic and feel oddly outcast-ed by society, is that I don’t really “get” the way most people think. And maybe part of this is fueled by things as intangible and as out-of-left-field as my indifference toward things that matter to a great majority of people.

Or maybe, as Sam in Garden State would say, I need to listen to The Shins.