My taste in music: Medium Raw

I’ve just finished Anthony Bourdain’s latest book, Medium Raw. Strangely, instead of hitting a Food Network marathon or going to the kitchen to experiment with something tasty, I’m thinking about music.

You see, the literary arts are very similar to music; they require balance of contradictions and a disciplined mind to focus otherwise ephemeral, nonsensical notes into melodies. Within the fretboard of a guitar alone there are about 132 or 138 possible notes, but it is the creative genius of Stevie Ray Vaughn or Albert King (or for pure pleasure, both) that pulls, from the fathomless combinations, beautiful blues riffs and cascading cadences which slip into the back of the mind, eyes closed. I don’t compare Bourdain’s content to that of a guitar demigods, but I generally share the tastes of his age and rebellion – and his passionate love for sentimental things.

Unlike many of my peers, my taste in music is not something off the “Top 40” list. Any “pop” streamed songs found on the airwaves or in suburban hard drives does not usually make it’s way to my ears on conscious command. Usually I come along “mainstream” music by way of reverse engineering: a friend plays the song that presumably everyone knows and of which is a new discovery to me.

Instead, I can be found with an iPod full (it’s only 1 gigabyte) of songs I listen to for five years at a time. I like to explore albums already made and written about. Like a miner I search for gold – but through the dust. Sure, there is a pleasure that comes with wearing the most fashionable clothes, but I am a stubborn believer in the satisfaction behind dirty pants and a hard day’s work. I think that’s what I share in common with Bourdain: an appreciation for the real. My peers would accuse me of being boring.

So while I’m looking for a new book to put before my eyes, you can find me jamming to the tunes of Ray LaMontagne, Norah Jones, Rachael Yamagata, John Mayer, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Hendrix, Albert King, Neil Young, Weezer, Lauryn Hill, Dylan, Jann Arden, MacLauchlan, Priscilla Ahn, Clara C, Lucinda Williams, Michael Jackson, and the Mountain Goats. To name a few.

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