Soundtracks for Seasons
This post is in direct response to a recent conversation with friends about how I find new music, specifically Christian music. Living in the Boston area Christian stations do not abound, rather the one Christian station is AM talk; it takes more work to scout out good Christian music. My musical taste is fairly eclectic and my general rule with music, what I listen to both new and old is that it does my heart good. It can be classical, jazz, country, gospel, hip-hop, pop, folk, etc. just as long as it’s the appropriate soundtrack for the season. I invest time and some resources to keep the music I listen to fresh and relevant to what is happening in my life and where God is growing me. How do I do it?
Resources: Music is important to me so my budget takes into account I am going to download music and will need a way to play it back. It doesn’t take all that much. I have an Itouch for walks/runs and use my Iphone as well, often to stream music. They are not the latest models but they work. I have Spotify downloaded, the Shazam for occasional use when I want to know the name of a song, Pandora, Apple products, and the Klove app installed. I expect to depart with some cash each month for new songs, including some “risk buys” not knowing sure if I really will like a song, it’s sort a version of a lottery ticket.
Curiosity: I’ve left the radio on scan for an hour as my mind wanders and stop it if I hear something good only to go back to scanning until I find another song I like. I surf whether it be on Itunes to listen to snippets of songs or to go to recommended artist websites. I listen to openers when I go to concerts and will download or buy their music. I check out what ITunes is recommending for me. Sometimes it is spot on and there are the times because of other downloads I’m recommended a range of rap, dance and country that confuses me.
Friends: If it’s recommended by a friend I typically listen. If they hand me a CD I listen to it. My friend Gerry is my “concert buddy.” She’s retired so can snag good seats when they go on sale. If she thinks we should go I’m usually in. The most recent: I already was listening to worship music from Tim Hughes at Holy Trinity Brompton, my friend Lyn gave me 2 CD’s she was thought I would enjoy. A+
The Younger Generation: I ask the middle and high school students what they are listening to. I’ve handed over my phone to my nieces and nephews and asked them to add a Pandora station. I sometimes bring up YouTube in my office at work and ask students what they are listening to and why. A new (to me) band one of students shared was “First Aid Kit.” I didn’t download anything but it helped me understand him more, and they have a unique sound. If someone has a concert t-shirt on I want to hear about it. I also need to ask questions about Glee with frequency. My nephew set me up with Ivoryline as a Pandora station, which we listened to a lot one weekend.
Blogs and Twitter: If I see a recommended artist on a blog or twitter feed I follow I check it out. Sometimes I end up on the artist’s webpage or on ITunes. Then I move from artist to artist to expand my search. Most recently Bob Goff made a great recommendation for Brandon Heath’s new album coming out and Bebo Norman shared he has new music coming out.
Podcasts/Radio: The Catalyst Podcast and Catalyst Conference have made some great recommendations for music over the past couple of years. Though I don’t text and drive I did find myself downloading the song Awesome by Charles Jenkins and Fellowship Chicago as I was driving in the mountains of New Hampshire due to one of their recommendations. More recently I was listening to the local NPR station and they did a spotlight on a local 16 year old fold musician Hayley Reardon, a great musician with moving lyrics.
Tempo: I look for a song that meets my need for the right soundtrack at the time. I’ve looked for good running music with just the right tempo; Madonna, Lecrae, Beyonce, U2, Hillsong, and Toby Mac have shared the same playlist.
There are times of Joy, Pain, Waiting, Celebration, and Love in all of our lives. I look for songs and set up playlist accordingly that help me stay focused and positive during all these times. I have helped prepare for an event or season by preparing the soundtrack and playing it alternating in the foreground and background as needed. So often music can articulate the needs of our heart better than our own words. I’ve set up playlists for a trip to the mountains, a solo day of skiing, and a long drive in the rain. I’ve also made searches, most often on ITunes, for songs on forgiveness, love, surrender, worship, and more.
I hope you are encouraged to check your soundtrack and add a new song.