Being at the mercy of taxi cab transportation is unsettling. After a long day of travel, i.e. sitting around twiddling thumbs and paying out the nose, the last thing I want to do is rack up more cab fare.

Also, being kind of a control freak, I want less of that feeling of helplessness than more of it.

So while the attendants at my hotel in Chicago looked nonplussed at the idea, I decided to hoof it to my destination, which was a mile or so away.

Maybe there weren't any sidewalks, as they explained to me in detail, but I ended up balance-walking the curb along the highway just fine.

And then something struck me.

Not a car! What struck me was a thought.


As I tightrope-walked inches from passing traffic on a warm spring day, I heard from open windows a downright wild variety of music. One particularly profanity-laced anthem positively blasted out of a shiny-rimmed vehicle. I could hear pistols cocking and the word "bitch" heaved out of the car so clearly, my immediate thoughts went to the driver's ears and possible hearing loss. But once the bass and full beat kicked in... I was right there with him. Sweet track.

It wasn't 20 seconds after that, when I caught what I think might have been Stravinsky's Firebird suite playing loudly in a passing sedan.

Interestingly, both drivers had the same expression on their faces. Half-bored, but engaged with the music.


What struck me was this: How in the world can we humans be so alike, but when it comes to our musical entertainment, we can have nothing in common with our neighbors?

"Your music" is a common phrase, and unlike "your writing" and "your art," it doesn't exactly denote ownership. Music is so personal, "your music" ends up being whatever insanely unique combination of phrases, patterns, notes and beats that makes you happy, and keeps you interested.

To be fair, a lot of people do listen to a lot of the same songs, especially if they're tuned into the same station. But this is 2016, and the ubiquitous access of the internet means you can dial up whatever you damn please when it comes to listening.

The way I look at personal musical choice is as an evolutionary journey. We all start somewhere with music, we begin to recognize musical patterns that we like, and, as time goes on, we search for more and more of that feeling.

Humans must walk before we run, and so it goes with our own personal music journeys — our tastes evolve. The types of music that piqued our interests early still influence where we are currently. Over a long enough period of time, following those interests can lead us in very different directions than our neighbors.

That's part of the beauty of music. It's so complex, and so personal, and there's so much to explore. In the case of music, time is a friend.

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