As an unintended consequence of buying a new car, I have a 6-month trial of Sirius satellite radio at present – that is, we normally get it for the cars, but right now I can also listen online or via app on my phone. What I really like about this is you can select your favorite stations and see the whole list of what’s playing on each of those stations at any given time. Also, there are more stations than you can get over the radio, including a pretty good folk one (the Village).

Also, they seem to have it set up so that, when you swtich to a song in play, you hear it from the beginning, even if it says it’s been on for a few minutes. This is nice, because you don’t miss the song by tuning in late; the downside is that you can’t really switch between songs because each time you do, each song starts over.

What I find interesting is to be able to switch between music I like and see how each affects me. I would not have guessed, for instance, that Neil Young’s You + Me makes me happy in a way that somehow Robert Earl Keen covering 1952 Vincent Black Lightning just doesn’t. That surprised me, given that I like Robert Earl and that Richard Thompson’s original of 1952 Vincent Black Lightning is one of my favorite songs ever by one of my favorite singer/guitarists. I think it comes down to three things: guitar, melody, and personal history.

The first two are linked. I play guitar a little (or more accurately, used to), so I know just enough to appreciate when it’s done well, and also I was a kid in the 1970s so it’s the sound of the music of my childhood. More than a guitarist, though, I’m a singer (at least, if we’re describing people by what they do rather than by what they’re good at – I’m not good at either) and maybe because of that I will almost always prefer a more melodic version of a song to a less melodic one. Maybe “melodic” isn’t the right word; I mean something with a tune that’s identifiable and easy to follow. I also seem to like what Pandora calls “acoustic sonority”, which may not so much be about the actual sound for me as that melody thing, without having so much processing and other stuff going on that it makes it hard to follow the tune. (Then there’s the odd counterexample of Tim McGraw, whose more recent stuff often sounds to me like he’s trying to mash together two conflicting songs; just when you’re nicely settled in with a melody line he goes off and does some other damn thing.)

As for the personal history, I’m definitely likely to prefer the song I cried to that year in college, or the one I fell in love with on my own and then found a reference to in a favorite book, or the one I’ve been singing with for years. Comfort music, I guess.

Between the ridiculous hours he’s been working and the crappy weather predicted this weekend, Ted reckon’s he’s not feeling up to heading out to the lake this weekend, so I guess I’m only listening to satellites this weekend, not looking for them (and even if we do decide to go at the last minutes, the weather will probably preclude all star and satellite-watching anyway).