Liking "Everything"

"Hybrid people light a wooded matchstick. Toxic fumes from the burning plastic. Beats are broken. Bones are spastic. Robots talkin' with a southern accent..." ~Beck


Do you want to know what I hate? When I ask someone what kind of music they like and they say "Everything," it drives me absolutely insane. Because while this isn't patently impossible, it is still relatively uncommon for someone to truly like everything. So I test them with a little "Even screamo?" or "Even ragtime?" or "Even classical?" or if all else fails "Even hardcore gangster rap?" Usually on one of these hypotheticals the person in question squirms and admits that they absolutely can't stand one of those types of music. And that kills the "Everything" they said previously. I think I know why so many people say "Everything" though, and that's because they don't want to take the time to think about what they really like. I like to take that time, but I don't do it by categories like I just showed you above. Instead I go by individual artists and break it down from there.


For instance, I teach at a local community college, and one thing I like to talk about and often utilize as an instructional tool is my love of music. On the first day of the semester I said something about liking Taylor Swift, and how U2 was my favorite band. Both admissions got me some wild reactions. "Seriously, professor? You like Taylor Swift? She's so vapid!" and "But U2 isn't relevant anymore" and "You like anything that's not mainstream?" and "How old are you?" I like those reactions because it reminds me that even in this age where we talk so much about acceptance, simply stating the groups or musical acts you like can get you the cold shoulder, because judgments still abound. Maybe now more than ever.


So when someone asks me what kind of music I listen to, I say that it depends. I tell them that while I like Taylor Swift and U2, I can just as often be found listening to Switchfoot, Bjork, Busta Rhymes, or Scott Joplin. I tell them that while I appreciate Snoop Dogg, I also love Casting Crowns, Rihanna, Paramore, and Erin McCarley. In short, I like music that moves me in some way, shape or form. If it moves me, in whatever way it moves me, I will listen to it. I will put on my headphones, turn up the volume, and immerse myself so deeply in it that I might not come up for air anytime soon. And the next time I run into someone who tells me they like "Everything" I don't question them. I just smile to myself and keep on moving.


Sam McManus