Lately I’ve been getting into podcasts. It’s annoying, really, that so many good ones are out there. This media overload is about to kill me, despite my love for making lists, as I now have added a To-Listen list of podcasts to my already robust To-Read list (and actual stacks) of books and To-Watch list of TV shows I missed the first time around or simply can’t keep up with now (I will miss you, new seasons of Arrow and Flash.).
When we moved to our new house this summer, I thought I’d be all over the podcast-listening. My drive to the babysitter, our favorite library, or the biggest grocery store is about twice what it used to be, so I have plenty of drive time to listen to my favorite folks talk about some of my favorite things. And yet…more often than not, new episodes pile up on my podcast app while I jam out to 90s on 9 or the latest Taylor Swift song.
While I really want to catch up on all the great podcasts I’ve learned about, I can’t seem to quit my love of radio. And pop music. I like pop music, I do. Not just as in the Top 40 hits of the week, but as in “popular music.” So I like popular country music and popular contemporary Christian music and popular pop music. And now, because we have so many tools for curating our own playlists and soundtracks, I also frequently indulge my love of the most popular music from decades or sub-genres.
I used to be embarrassed by this. My best friend loves finding new songs by obscure artists, and my husband gets annoyed when radio stations overplay the biggest hits. They don’t understand why my musical habits are so unambitious, so pedestrian, so lame. And so I have laughed it off, confessing with a bit of shame that I do, indeed, love “radio music.” You know, the music they play on the radio. On the main stations. During the main hours. The most popular ones that everyone knows, with the same three chords, with the lyrics made of nonsense (or worse), by the pretty, pretty cool kids with the biggest record deals.
Why don’t I have better taste? I’ve wondered. After all, though it’s been a long time since I performed anywhere, I still consider myself a musician. Shouldn’t I know better? Shouldn’t I be seeking out and supporting new artists and their weird, I mean different, music?
I should. Or, at least I think I should. I want to. But, then again, I must not want to badly enough, just like I must not be that anxious to catch up on all those podcasts I’ve heard about. Because when it comes down to it, I choose pop music every time.
Recently I read a post by Tsh Oxenreider, where she shared her love of creating themed playlists. She linked to some of her favorites on Spotify, and I immediately clicked over to follow every single one. That’s when it hit me: I’m never going to be that person who finds hidden music treasures, who discovers new artists or the best songs from the B-side (I kid. Obviously we don’t have B-sides anymore. I’M NOT THAT OLD SHUT UP.). I’m not. But that doesn’t mean I can’t learn from people who really are that cool.
As much as I love all kinds of music, I apparently lack the motivation to seek it out. I am a passive music lover content to consume what is given to me (and the masses). And I’m okay with that. Because first of all, that’s who I am. And if hearing another Taylor Swift song that sounds like that other Taylor Swift song makes me smile and sing along? So what! I’m okay with that.
But I’m also okay with that because I know I don’t have to be all the cool, smart, clever, crafty things in the world. Because while I might be clever in other ways, I have friends who are fantastic at finding new music. And, fortunately for me, they are generous at sharing their discoveries. So I can accept my pop music obsession while still feeding the more complex musician side of me with Tsh’s playlists and the new song my husband heard on satellite radio (“Mary, they’re not going to play it on the regular radio; you’ll have to look it up.”) and Pandora when I let it roam free of my likes and dislikes and skips.
This might seem like a silly thing to you, a small thing to give up in my pursuit of freedom and grace and all the giving-up-on-perfect ways of life. But to me, it truly was a relief to realize I can cross this one thing off my list. I am never going to become the kind of person who knows obscure music and new artists. I’m never going to keep up with the Lanes and Rorys of the world with their vinyl and their hidden tracks and their indie bands, and I’m never going to win my guitar-playing friend’s or my too-cool-for-school cousin’s respect over my music choices — and that’s okay.
What about you?
Do you wish you were “cool” enough to name all the superheroes (and know which ones belong to Marvel and which ones belong to DC)? Do you wish you knew the words to all the songs playing at the coffee shop? Are you embarrassed to admit that you’d rather read a Nicholas Sparks book than some biography your friend heard about on NPR?
What are you afraid to admit you love?
What preference or quirk embarrasses you?
Where can you let go of comparison or wishing you were someone else?
The truth is that none of us are that cool. We each have our opinions and our favorites and our habits, and we each have a list of stuff we just don’t have the time for or interest in caring about. AND THAT’S OKAY. Just be who you are and not who you think you should be. Somebody’s probably already made a playlist for that (who you really are) anyway.