Our recent trip to the mountains in the western part of the state got me thinking about music. The OG maintained a stranglehold on the radio, deftly switching between presets and the ipod until a familiar tune was playing. It made me wonder how a new song could ever come into her life, since the unfamiliar was immediately shunned, even if it was a song that might have been the newest Pitbull or Katy Perry. On the other hand, I like stuff that sounds like stuff I like--hence the Wefunk and RootsRock radio podcasts, as well as my love for the Artist Radio service on Pandora or Spotify. It creates the illusion of newness within the confines of the familiar.
In his excellent book The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg delves into this, examining why Outkast's "Hey Ya," though envisaged as a major hit, did not find immediate favor among radio listeners. It was too different. It was only by sandwiching it in between familiar songs that DJs got people to listen:
"The areas that process music are designed to seek out patterns and look for familiarity... Our brains crave familiarity because [it] is how we manage to hear without becoming distracted by all the sound."
So if you want your kids to appreciate Jill Sobule, you might bookend her between Taylor Swift and Nicky Minaj on your next playlist.