My favorite thing about running up and down I-75 every weekend to see my folks this time of year is the Soundtracks I listen to along the way.
Sometimes I play my friend Webb's wedding soundtrack (he made it for all the guests as a party favor when he got married a few summers ago, and it's one of the best weddings/concerts I've ever been to). A lot of times I put in all my Oxford American Sampler CDs and just let them shuffle. The Billy Bob Thornton/Earl Scruggs cover of Ring of Fire is an unlikely favorite (the bass on that and Henry Rollins' cover of "Lonesome On'ry and Mean" is how I blew out the rear speakers in my car). It's an admitted impediment that the rear speakers are gone, but I remember a day when you actually had to reach over and physically turn the dials on the radio with your hands -- like an animal -- before all the stereo controls were transferred to the steering column, so I'm not complaining.
Although I don't always listen to great music (today, for example, I listened to Seal and Sting -- and my iPod is stocked with trash), I do know what great music is. I was a music critic and then a music editor for years. So it surprised me earlier this week when a guy told my friends he didn't want to go out with me more or less because I liked Robert Earl Keen. I don't know this guy. They certainly weren't pitching me to him (I didn't know about any of this til after the fact) -- he asked them for a fix-up, not the other way around. In terms of just thinking up things they thought we might have in common, they must've suggested a gig as a date or something -- and that's when it came out that he hated my taste in music (which is pretty public). It turns out, he likes Metal. More specifically, he likes Children of Bodom -- which I unfortunately know pretty well from my office -- a brand of metal I would characterize as "music to burn down a church to."
Not to stereotype or anything, I also clarified to my friends, "you do know that I'm never going to let a man hit me?" -- because that's also the sort of music I would suspect a man might like to tune in to while he beats his wife.
While I am long past the Say Anything/High Fidelity/Nick Hornby age where I build a relationship around sharing a favorite song, I also probably would not date someone who, say, wanted to take me to a Michael Buble concert.
But in an ideal world, I would like to conduct whatever romance is to be conducted by a soundtrack scored by Ryan Adams. Not Bryan Adams. In fact, I listened to one of his bootlegs from MissKristina most of the day today.
I finished off the first leg of the trip to The Ramones, "I wanna be your boyfriend."
One of my strongest music memories ever is of Alejandro Escovedo covering that (with the full band) on a warm April night right after Joey died. So yeah, I don't see a Children of Bodom fan as boyfriend material.