The Guardian maps your musical tastes with fascinating results
British newspaper The Guardian, in association with Spotify, has taken on a rather fascinating project about the social functions of music. Theorist Eric Clarke describes the idea as an attempt to introduce personal aspects into a field that normally thinks of music in abstract, large-scale terms: how specific people relate to the specific songs that mean something special to them instead of dry academic theories.
The Six Songs of Me project does this by inviting people to pick songs according to a half-dozen questions, using a Spotify-linked web app. (Note: you do not have to be a Spotify member to enter songs, though you do to browse other listeners' playlists.) For example, here are my answers.
1. What was the first song you ever bought?
My real answer to this is the first single I bought from my father's store, an Apple-label reissue of The Beatles' "And I Love Her"/"If I Fell," when I was five. But since the Beatles catalogue isn't available, I'll go with the first song on the first LP I bought, The Box Tops' Super Hits: "The Letter." One of my older sisters had this single, which I adored.
2. What song always gets you dancing?
I randomly went with the first I could think of out of hundreds of possibilities: "Love For Tender" by Elvis Costello and the Attractions. Luckily, the question doesn't say anything about dancing well.
3. What song takes you back to your childhood?
"Moonlight Feels Right" by '70s one-hit-wonder Starbuck. I was six during the summer this song was omnipresent on AM radio, and I genuinely thought it might have been recorded by aliens. Everything about the song, from the synthesizer-riffs hooks to the weird stagey chuckle that precedes every chorus to the fact that the instrumental solo is played on a marimba, just seemed slightly off to me. Still does.
4. What is your perfect love song?
Astrud Gilberto's version of Marcos Valle's "Summer Samba (So Nice)." A sweet, flirty bossa nova with a killer Walter Wanderley organ solo.
5. What song would you want at your funeral?
Stereolab's "Jenny Ondioline," in its full 18-minute glory, simply because it's awesome. Although I should point out that I married into a family that instead of funerals throws cocktail parties for all of the deceased's friends, so that answer makes more sense in that context.
6. One last song that makes you, you.
Well, about ten years ago, a Bay Area singer-songwriter named Anton Barbeau -- whom I've never actually met despite the fact that we have a number of friends in common -- wrote and recorded a song called "Stewart Mason." As far as I can tell, given that the lyrics are complete gibberish, my name just happened to fit the vocal melody. Go figure.
Curious Spotify listeners can hear this playlist at Six Songs of Stewart.