One of the things I’m obligated to do by virtue of what I do for a living is keeping an eye on my own taste–noticing what I like and what I don’t like, in general. Over the last week or so, as people start to nudge me about various end-of-year music things, I’ve been noticing that there’s a lot of very popular (or very “semipopular,” as Xgau puts it) new music that rolls right off me: I don’t like it and I don’t actively dislike it, I just barely even notice it when it’s playing. But there’s also a lot of older music that has been totally knocking me flat, some in idioms I didn’t pay much attention to even ten years ago (that new Franco collection is just incredible), some that I would’ve passed over as second- or third-tier a while back.
I mean, in some sense I know that the Pointer Sisters’ 1975 album Steppin’ isn’t as special as… a lot of other things, but I picked up a battered copy of the LP at Everyday Music for a few dollars, and I’ve been wanting to listen to it every day. (Here’s its staggeringly great opening track “How Long,” an R&B #1 that I swear I have never heard on the radio, and absorbed only via Salt-n-Pepa’s “Chick on the Side”:)
Now, naturally, my job is to figure out why I adore “How Long”–which I heard for the first time last week, so I can’t really say I’ve got a longstanding or situational attachment to it–and can’t bring myself to care in more than a theoretical way about “Wasted” or “Fireflies,” let alone the albums they belong to. I’ve got a vague theory; now I have to figure out what would disprove it.