What Are You Listening To?

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What Are You Listening To?

Three New Yorkers take off their headphones and chat. 

Carson, 35

So what are you listening to, Carson?
At this very moment? I've got some guitar jazz on. It’s from North Carolina, where I'm from.

Does it have a distinctly Southern feel to it?
Maybe, yeah! It's a local musician named Cool-John Luke.

That's pretty ballsy to have “Cool” right in your name like that. Is he cool?
He was! He was an older guy, so I think he'd probably earned that nickname over time. I saw him at an outdoor concert I went to with my parents.

So what do you do?
I work in renewable energy. I used to work for G.E., I'm now finishing up my MBA. I was a part-time MBA student, and now I'm now finishing up my MBA full-time at Stern.

How do you calm yourself down after a long day of renewing energy?
I do yoga. One of the musicians I really like from that scene is Wah! 

Listen: “Is It Love”

New Age-y type stuff?
Totally. It's a little like Enya.

So, do you have a guilty-pleasure song?
Well, I have a few of them actually. I like Sheryl Crow's “Soak Up The Sun.”

Ah yes, the classic summer song from ten years ago.
But, if I have one thing that's a guilty pleasure, it's Taylor Swift “You Belong With Me.”

Listen: “Soak Up the Sun”

Ah yes, the classic summer song from ten years ago.
But, if I have one thing that's a guilty pleasure, it's Taylor Swift “You Belong With Me.”

Listen: “You Belong With Me”

If you had to pick one theme song for your life, what would it be?
“Islands in The Stream,” by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rodgers. 

Listen: “Islands in the Stream”

What do you think Dolly Parton is up to right now?
Man, she is looking fantastic as always! She is loving life.

Nickelback. Thoughts?
No. But can I tell you another great song?

By all means, yes!
There's this really great song by the Bee Gees. It's called “One.”

What does that song evoke for you?
It's talking about how two people should become one. It's a cool love song.

Listen: “One”


Aleksandra, 26

So where are you from?

How long have you been in America?
Since Friday.

So you're very, very new. What are you listening to?
Noel Gallagher.

From Oasis!
He has his own band, right? Noel Gallagher and something-something. [Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds — Ed.]

Listen: “Dream On” 

Is pop music in Belgium different from pop music in America?
It's a bit different, but not that much. Most of the stuff you have here, we have. You only hear about very, very big Belgian bands in America. But we do have some cool stuff, you know.

Oh yeah?
Yes, we do. My very favorite — I'm from Antwerp — and there's an Antwerp band called dEUS. They’re like… a rhythmic, rock kind of thing.

Listen: “Keep You Close"

Techno is the big thing over there, yeah? Do you go clubbing a lot?
Yes, but that's not my cup of tea. Certainly not.

Have you ever had a good song ruined by an ex?

That was an immediate “Yeah!”
Well… I'm getting over it. I'm getting over the fact that it still reminds me of him, but I still like the song. “You and I,” by Ingrid Michaelson.

Listen: “You and I”

Do you have songs that you need to show a person you're dating?
Not really. I listen to quite a lot of music, and it's sort of like, you connect the person with the music at a certain point, but it's not like we have to have “a song” or we have to listen to my music only.

Norman, 40

Ok, so what are you listening to now?
I'm listening to this WFMU show “Alternative Side” a lot — that's where I would actually hear a lot of new music. So if we're talking new music, then bands like Beach House or Caveman. I love the Walkmen and MGMT, and stuff like that. But I listen to classical music and jazz… well, maybe not so much jazz. And a lot of classic rock.

What’s the guiltiest pleasure on your iPod?
Guiltiest pleasure… well, I don't feel that way about those things, because I never feel guilty about anything. But I like a lot of soft rock — I like Gerry Rafferty and I like Alice Stuart, and I like Carly Simon. I don't feel guilty about it, but I think they're considered guilty pleasures by some. And I love disco.

Listen: “Baker Street”

What's a good go-to disco song?
Michael Jackson. The song “Rock With You,” from Off The Wall, is great. I don't know if it's considered disco or not. But it is essentially disco. That George McCrae song, “Rock Your Baby.” I like the ones that are kind of in the soft groove. I like the Bee Gees and I love Thelma Houston and people like that. 

Listen: “Rock With You”

If you had to pick a theme song to your life, what would it be?
That's a good question… honestly, my theme song for a while, and this sounds a little sad, was “Dancing with Myself” by Billy Idol. I'm married now, so I'm not alone. But uh… I used to like to go out dancing and I'd go out dancing alone, so I always loved the jauntiness of that song. There's something really arrogant about it, but also something self-contained. I'll just dance with myself! That made a big impression on me as a teenager. That was my theme song for a while.

You know, that song's about beating off?
Is it really? Well, that's also a running theme in my life, unsurprisingly.

So, what do you do?
I'm a tour guide, on the double-decker buses — the red ones in the city here.

Nice. Any odd experiences with the passengers?
Well, speaking of music, I once had to lead a tour on the Puff Daddy bus during fashion week. If I could pick one cultural character I like the least, it's probably Puff Daddy. The bus was total mayhem — he was up on the seats and, you know, there were all these street lights about to hit him. I had to get him down, but I was definitely conflicted: “If I'm on the bus that decapitates Puff Daddy, that's probably bad, but I’d be okay with it.” Though we did manage to get him down.

Basically, you saved Puffy’s life.
Yeah, unfortunately. Probably just to save my job — it wasn't even a moral thing. I just figured if he died, I'd be out of a job.