Meditations on First Music: Introduction

You are being brainwashed.

Every time you enter into a coffee shop, mall, car, or pretty much anywhere else radio is played. Repetitive slogans are played over and over again on top of a catchy hook that exploits your psychology in such a way that you’re likely to be singing it in your head all day even after the radio is off.

The club isn’t the best place to find a lover, so the bar is where I go
I got two, ooh-ooh, letters for you one of them is “F” and the other one is “U”
Percocets, molly, Percocets
Don’t be afraid to catch feels. Don’t be afraid to catch these feels. Ride drop top and chase thrills.
Look at me, fuck on me. Look at me, fuck on me. Look at me, fuck on me. Look at me, yeah! Look at me, fuck on me. Look at me, fuck on me. Look at me, fuck on me. Look at me, yeah!

This is not a hit piece on hip hop (which I love).
This is not a rejection of all pop music.
This is a wake up call to be conscious of the message that you are feeding your mind.

What is this message? Whatever iHeartMedia Inc. wants to shove down your throats. iHeartMedia is a huge national company (formerly ClearChannel) that owns practically all of the major radio stations in the United States. They are so pervasive, that you could listen to the hip hop station in Los Angeles, then fly to Buttfuck, Iowa the next day and hear the identical mix of music on the local hip hop station there, complete with a similar sounding host.

Before unfucking your musical tastes you’ll have to go full Descartes Meditations on First Philosophy and get rid of everything you do not know for certain about your musical tastes.

Skynet & Ebert

This is likely where many people will stop reading. Most people’s sense of identity is so closely tied to their musical tastes that they are afraid a rigorous questioning of what makes up these tastes will destroy their ego. This is a bold and rare undertaking. Novelty in musical taste dwindles rapidly after college, and practically stagnates around your early 30s — coincidentally the time most people settle into a career path that will keep them surrounded by a homogeneous peer groups until their retirement.

If you’re still resistant to this idea think of it as analogous to the current obesity epidemic in the United States. Mindless consumption of food in America has two manifestations. The first manifestation is the most obvious, a diet consisting largely of cheap, heavily processed junk food. The other manifestation is not so obvious but is equal in its mindlessness — the blind acceptance of a “healthy” diet lauded by doctors, or perhaps online communities. The ramifications of this kind of diet may result in very good health, but the diet may also be an extremely poor fit for the individual’s metabolism and genetics. A more metered approach would be to attempt to eat in different ways, noting how the body feels with the intent of deriving overarching principles by which the individual should eat. These principles would likely boil down to a macro ratio that works well for the desired body composition, and the number of calories to take in to reach or maintain a desired weight. In this example, the junk food diet could be seen as listening to strictly Billboard Top 40 songs, while the prescriptive “healthy” diet could be seen as listening to a selection of classical music that some scholar selected. Both approaches are intellectual suicide. A blind adherence to these prescriptive sonic diets removes the variety that gives life its zest. True self control is not a matter of lifelessly clinging to rigid behavioral patterns, but consciously knowing when to break one’s own rules, and having the discipline to return to these rules after the transgression without needless self-condemnation.

Music is a powerful motivator — psychologically and spiritually.

Work songs sung by the slaves gave them hope on a spiritual level, and kept the pace of their work on a practical level.

Battle songs played to signal military action on the field, and to hype soldiers up to fight.

Protest chants recited at demonstrations to share ideas, and to be catchy enough to stay in one’s ear after the chanting had ended.

In this 5 part series, I’m going to lay our a plan for deconstructing and mindfully rebuilding your musical tastes. After this rebuilding, I’ll teach you how to leverage this music in such a way that you can productively use it as high octane fuel to meet your life goals. The parts will be as follows:

The Building Blocks of Musical Taste

Criteria: Judging New Music

Discovering New Music and Avoiding Brainwashing

Listening Exercises

Music as Fuel