Why do we like what we like?

This question can be applied to pretty much anything I guess; People, Film, Food etc. But I am thinking specifically about music at the moment. What is it that forms our opinion of what is good or not. Is it the way it has been recommended to us and by whom? I have friends that have a much greater knowledge of music than I. People whose judgment I trust and yet, I often get given a recommendation and have absolutely no intention of following it up, at least not immediately. 

The inspiration for me writing this comes as I am in the middle of Bruce Springsteen’s audio book. I love an audio book, especially one that is narrated by the author (Elvis Costello’s is also fantastic but more about that in a bit). Obviously, I have been aware of Bruce Springsteen for as long as I can remember, he’s an international rock star and I have heard some of his hits, fairly regularly throughout my life but I haven’t paid much attention. Mick (Singer/Guitarist) is a huge fan but I never took his recommendation about the music from him, I just shrugged it off and went about my day. I did take the recommendation of the book from him though (I don’t know why the book and not the music) but this has now lead me to the music and I’m currently wading into the back catalogue of Mr. Springsteen. I’m into the first 2 albums and am enjoying what I’m hearing. 

Elvis Costello, as you may know if you’ve been reading through these blogs, is someone I have been a fan of for many years. Through his book (Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink) I have been inspired to listen to some artists that I haven’t got around to listening to properly; The Band, Little Feat, Allen Toussaint and discovered others that I have never heard of before like David Ackles. 

Thinking back, the original Elvis (Presley), Buddy Holly, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin are just a few that haven’t ticked the boxes for me immediately. I love them all now, but I remember being dismissive of their work at one time or another, only to have it come back around for me to ‘get it’. On the flip side, there are other bands where I have taken to them immediately, some of whom I still regularly listen to and others that I don’t. My favourite of these is Silverchair, I bought their first album after reading an interview in a guitar magazine and instantly loved it. Guns ‘n’ Roses Use Your Illusion (both parts – on cassette tape), Dookie by Green Day and Nirvana’s Nevermind are others that I clearly remember hitting me immediately. 

What is it about these that I like? Is it down to timing? If I’d have heard any of these 6 months earlier or later would I have dismissed these too? Is it from whom the recommendation came from that makes a difference. Or is it all just in my head.

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