Monday, September 15, 2008

No Choice for Music

Barry Schwartz’s book, "The Paradox of Choice" outlines an increasingly common aspect of modern life – having too many options. Sometimes when there are too many choices, it’s so difficult to pick one that I continually put off making a decision. Which results in no choice being made at all.

That happened to me recently in a group discussion. Each of us was supposed to name our favorite song. I didn’t know what to say. When it comes to music, I have too many choices.

My number one favorite song? Sorry, don’t have one.

If you’re talking about classical music, my most favorite composition is probably Kurt Hessenberg’s Second Symphony, simply the best-constructed musical composition I’ve ever heard. But if I want something with deep spirituality, then it’s Alan Hovhaness’ “Mysterious Mountain” -- or Ralph Vaughn Williams’ “Pilgrim’s Progress.” But then there’s Dowland’s “Can She Excuse My Wrongs?”and the Beethoven first string quartet and, well, the list goes on.

And the same is true of other genres. The number one golden oldie that takes me back to high school? “Things I’d Like to Say” by the New Colony Six. Except when it’s “Prologue” by Chicago. Or Sugarloaf’s “Green-Eyed Lady,” or Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose, or the Ides of March, or any of several other bands.

And if I want to go back to the early sixties, my favorite track is Petula Clark’s “Colour My World” except when it’s the Standells singing “Sometimes Good Guys Don’t Wear White, ” or any of a dozen other songs.

Movie soundtracks? My favorite’s Alfred Newman’s How the West Was Won, except when it’s Miklos Rozsa’s King of Kings. Or Erich Korngold’s score for The Adventures of Robin Hood, or Elmer Bernstein’s Hallelujah Trail, or a few others.

Ditto with musicals, soul, funk, pop, rock, new wave, punk, jazz, folk, grime (yes, I have a few favorites here), bluegrass, and even country.

Too many choices. I can’t decide.

So I do the only thing I can. I just enjoy every piece of music on its own merit, and how it meets my needs.

And I never answer the question of what’s my favorite song.
- Ralph

Day 92 of the WJMA Web Watch.

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