I’ve Opened Pandora’s Box

Posted: January 28, 2012 in Uncategorized
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I recently discovered Pandora, the internet music radio station.  I haven’t bothered with internet radio before.  For some reason I quit listening to music for many, many years but it’s time to put it back into my life.

Pandora only exists in the United States for now. I don’t know if there are similar things in other countries yet.  I am starting to really like it because it lets me hear old favorites that I haven’t heard in ages and find new artists similar to my likes.  I’m busy exploring what I like in music.

I spent a lot of time listening to the music of my youth, and while I enjoyed hearing some old favorites, a lot of them took me back to painful times in my life.  It cleared out a lot of emotions that I haven’t felt since I was a young person.  I’m a child of the era of racial violence in the US, the assassination of President Kennedy, his brother Robert and Dr. Martin Luther King.  I lived through the Vietnam War peace movement and the civil rights movement.  I went through the drugs and the free love that followed Woodstock and the women’s rights movement.   I’m a baby boomer who grew up during the Cold War and was thrilled by the first footsteps on the moon.  I’m flashing on memories that I had long ago buried.  There was a sadness, a nostalgia that came over me.  I’d wake up in the night to hear snatches of songs playing over and over again.  It brought up so much that it kept me distracted during the day.

Finally I decided that it was time to put away the old memories and figure out what I want to listen to now.  Pandora lets you build your own music stations based on your favorite artists, but it also has stations dedicated to various musical genre.  I just started at the top of the list and worked my way down.  While I liked a lot of different types of music, I landed on bluegrass and have stayed there ever since.

Bluegrass is a sub genre of American Country Western music.  It has its root in Scottish and Irish music that was brought over by immigrants.  You’ll hear a lot of music similar to Irish jigs, quite lively and foot stomping, and an infusion of the blues and a touch of jazz sometimes. The main instruments in bluegrass are the  mandolin, banjo, violin, bass violin and acoustic guitar.  I love the mandolin.  If I ever find the time, I’d love to learn to play one.  Right now I’m listening to a soft and tender piece of music, so the pensive storytelling in Celtic tunes came over into bluegrass as well as the lively beat of the jig.  There is an earthiness to bluegrass that I like, and a complex use of simple instruments.  The funny thing is that I don’t like Country Western music.  It’s too depressing.  Too many broken hearts and failed relationships.  I like the aliveness that bluegrass brings me.

For some reason I haven’t figured out, it’s the music I like to have on when I’m writing.  Maybe the beat keeps me typing faster.  Maybe it juices up my head and gets me thinking more efficiently.  Most of the music I listen to is instrumental, but when there are lyrics, they’re secondary to the music so they don’t get in the way of the words that are tumbling from my head onto the paper.

It’s been fun to listen to all of this music, to hear the evolution of me from the Beatles and folk music of the 1960s to now settling into bluegrass in the second half of my life.

How about you?  What are your tastes in music?  How did your history shape what you listen to?  Does hearing the music that was your favorite as a teenager and young adult awaken memories that are pleasant or painful?


Read the preview of my new book, an Alice Anne  mystery:  “The Banker’s Murder List.”

  1. Pandora rocks! I don’t even use my iPod anymore!! It is amazing!! Enjoy!!! Margie

  2. Cee Neuner says:

    I agree Margie, it replaces my iPod too.

  3. Cee Neuner says:

    Reblogged this on Cee's Life Photography Blog and commented:
    Great article about a cool website.

  4. ntexas99 says:

    thanks for the intro to Pandora’s box … how this little juicy tidbit has escaped my notice is surprising … I’ll definitely be doing some exploring … thanks.

    let me return the favor … if you are leaning into bluegrass, I would love to introduce you to Sonia Dada, (if you aren’t already listening to them). I wish I knew how to properly imbed links into comments, so please forgive the long strings attached. Their sound is quite diverse, so at the very minimum, I would like to suggest four songs (which are all available on youtube, although I don’t know if you’ll find them on Pandora’s box): The River Runs Slow, Lover-You Don’t Treat Me No Good No More, Paradise (my all time favorite), and if you dare, Jungle Song (please listen all the way through if you want to hear all the surprises).

    Here are the youtube links:
    The River Runs Slow http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvhgLgyi1Fg&feature=related
    Lover http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9WH8AfakFs&feature=related
    Paradise http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oy57WgdogkQ
    and if you dare: Jungle Song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u60sLJLhS1E

    As to musical memories, I remember bursting into tears unexpectedly when I was watching the movie Forest Gump, when the song California Dreaming came on. (the Mamas and the Papas version can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dN3GbF9Bx6E). I still have no idea what that piece of music is attached to in my memory, I only know that I get the same strong reaction every time I listen to the music. I burst into tears, and yet I feel filled up, and whole.

    Music can be very powerful. Thanks for introducing me to a new place to explore.

  5. saarimner says:

    I actually had missed that Pandora wasnt working here in Sweden anymore due to using Spotify (as I guess almost half of Sweden is at the moment) If you have an iPhone and a Spotify account, and like Pandora I think you would love SpotON! I’m absolutely hooked with that service that’s a bit similar to Pandora but more easy to use and I also thinks that it’s more accurate.
    The world stops without music 🙂

  6. Too bad, Pandora is not accessible in Indonesia. But I have found Jango Radio is still available & free here. It’s also a cool radio station. Most of of services are similar to Pandora.

  7. Louise says:

    Bluegrass – check!! Mandolin – check!!! Banjo – check!!! hahaha – we are rolling with laughter here at the crazy intercontinental synergy. Fantastic!
    One of our bluegrass faves is Alison Krauss and Union Station. They also do bluegrass/country but the pure stuff is exquisite. 🙂 x x x

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