Category: Music

Playlist: Manly Men Singing Manly Songs In a Manly Manner

Music has belonged to the romantics for too damn long. It’s not healthy for a guy (or for a woman) to listen to constant singing about how a female is the center of some guy’s life, the one he “can’t live without,” the one he’d “do anything for.” It’s similarly unhealthy to constantly listen to […]

Read More..

Use Music’s History To Reflect On Your Own

I get really thoughtful when I go on long drives. Sometimes I reflect on things I have to do to make my life all that it can be. Sometimes I think about my dreams and plans. Sometimes I think about my past. And I almost always listen to music. Tonight I happened to turn on […]

Read More..

My Weird Trail Running Playlist for Trail Running Weirdos Like Me

Any kind of distance running is a psychological game, and music is one of the great mental hacks. So as I’ve gotten deeper into running – and now trail running – music has been an important ally. Given that our brains are motivated and stimulated by a whole range of things that music can provide […]

Read More..

In Praise of House Concerts

Tonight I got to attend my first house concert, and it was glorious. Where else can you watch a talented musician from the comfort of a plush chair (with snacks)? Where else can you cuddle with a dog while you listen to great songs? Where else can a musician and his/her fans have conversation (and […]

Read More..

Why I Love Old Rock and Rollers

Mick Jagger is a great-grandfather. Yet I suppose he still gets up on every tour date and sings about how he can’t get no satisfaction. There are countless bands and older musicians who (despite being well past their prime) still go out and play the hits: Journey, Paul McCartney, KISS, Guns N’ Roses, Aerosmith. From […]

Read More..

Why You Should Sing In Public

The other night “Dancing in the Street” came on in Publix while I was doing my grocery shopping. Naturally, I sang along. Then I walked past the dude from the meat department (or some other Publix employee). I kept singing. This is not something I might have done a few years ago. I would have […]

Read More..

Music Is An Augmented Reality Technology

It’s one kind of experience to drive down a country road. It’s another to drive down a country road while listening to “Country Roads, Take Me Home.” It’s one thing to work on a project late into the night. It’s another kind of thing entirely to work on a project late into the night while […]

Read More..

If It Has Rhythm, It’s Dancing

Tonight I stopped by Georgia Tech for their monthly social swing dance, and I picked up a new dancing skill or “phrase” along the way: the breakaway. Here’s a little sample: In a breakaway, two dancing partners separate and pretty much just do their own thing – as long as it has rhythm. Want to […]

Read More..

The Difference Between Poor, Mediocre, Good, and Great Song Lyrics

The worst song lyrics are heavily literal and dependent on adjectives, e.g. (using the example of a love long) “She’s hot. . .” Mediocre song lyrics use similes (“X is like Y”), e.g. “She’s hot like the Texas sun. . .“ Good song lyrics use metaphors, e.g. “Sunlight on the first day of spring. . […]

Read More..

The Ultimate Late Night Office Playlist

If you aren’t staying at your office past midnight at least once in a while, are you really working at a startup? I’ve written plenty before about my love of my late-night work sessions. When the office is empty, I get into my flow state, and nothing can stop me from getting things done. Having […]

Read More..

Your Story Makes Things Lovable

Nostalgia is a strange thing: it makes us fond of some stupid, awkward, and ugly things. Tonight, for instance, I was listening to some cheesy country songs from the 90s and early 00s. By many objective standards I should dislike this stuff (the over-production, 80s hangover mullets, and twangy rock/pop sound, etc) but for better or worse I’ve come […]

Read More..

How To Build an Epic Holiday Party Music Playlist in 7 Easy Steps

The holiday parties of 2018 are coming to a close – which just means that it’s time to start preparing for next year’s holiday parties. Picking good music is half the battle of hosting, so let’s talk about how to create a memorable playlist. Here’s my holiday party playlist from this year: <iframe src=”https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/jameslwalpole/playlist/4dwxDZ8IVQK9I61iRJda2n” width=”300″ height=”380″ […]

Read More..

Chihuahua Ballet, Tiny Band Carols, and Sick Violin-ing: A Concert Review of Lindsey Stirling’s “Wanderland” 2018 Tour – Charleston, December 22, 2018

Chihuahua ballet. Tiny instruments. Dancing violin players. Not things you would expect at a typical concert, even in the wild world of 2018. But that’s Lindsey Stirling for you. Last night my family went out to see the electric violinist/dancer’s last stop for the Wanderland 2018 tour (supporting Warmer in the Winter, which I reviewed last month) at the Performing Arts […]

Read More..

The Joy of Random Tastes in Music

Every year when Spotify releases our Top 100 Songs playlist, we each learn a little something about ourselves. If you’re anything like me, you learned that you have weird tastes in music. And that’s just the rub: it’s becoming increasingly normal to have weird, odd, random tastes. Streaming services and personalized music players have made highly […]

Read More..

Tired of Christmas Music? Just Add Swing Dancing

Feeling that grinding, soul-crushing sensation that comes with holiday rerun music about 30 days into the shopping season? Wish Christmas music could be new and joyful again, like it used to be? I’m a strong believer that knowing how to *dance* to music makes all the difference. And luckily for us, most popular American Christmas […]

Read More..

A Tip of the Hat to Karaoke Rock Bands

Thank God for karaoke rock bands. Last night the excellent players and supporting crew of Metalsome brought the house down at my company’s Christmas party, backing me and my nerdy coworkers on everything from The Black Crowes’ “Hard to Handle” (ahem, mine) and “Stacy’s Mom” to “I Believe In a Thing Called Love” and “Total […]

Read More..

Album Review: Lindsey Stirling’s “Warmer in the Winter” Blends High and Low, New and Old Sounds for Christmas

Every year about this time we get treated to the newest batch of Christmas albums from artists across the spectrum. These Christmas albums are often the low points of artists’ careers, money-making schemes that seem foisted on them by record labels. But they don’t have to be. And while (like everyone) I get tired of Christmas music at […]

Read More..

The Bourgeois Virtues of Piano Recitals

Tonight I was listening to some Baroque-period music on the radio, and it took me back – not to the 17th century, but instead to my early childhood. It’s so rare to hear classical music of this kind these days, but it’s not rare to see children playing these kinds of (simplified) pieces at piano […]

Read More..

Forget Books – Let Music Take You Places: Spotify Finds for World Wanderers

“Reading can take you places!”  You’ve seen this cheesy-but-true marketing slogan splashed on the walls of many a library. But while I love books, I’d argue that music can also be pretty damn effective at carrying you across time and space as well. As more and more of the world’s music gets recorded and digitized, we’re gaining […]

Read More..

Non-Musical Reasons to Enjoy Music

Most people don’t fall in love with certain kinds of music because of time signatures, good rhythm, or even particularly good melodies. There’s little element of music theory appreciation in most people’s love of music. People love music because it takes memories, associations, feelings and puts them into a harmonious order. We love music of certain decades. We love […]

Read More..

How To Karaoke: A Guide for the Shy First-Timer

Tonight I went out for karaoke with a group of libertarian friends. As a bunch tied together by common interests and beliefs and work in the area of political philosophy and economics, you wouldn’t think of us as the outgoing creative performer types. But we pulled it off. Karaoke, like anything, can be learned. And there […]

Read More..

5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Swing Dancing

If you’re going to learn one style of popular partner dancing, east-coast swing is surely the most versatile. You can use it for dancing to swing and big band music but also for boogeying to blues, Western swing, and rockabilly. There’s a wonderful community around this kind of dancing, and it’s simple enough that you can easily teach […]

Read More..

Remember Your Roots (and Keep Moving On): a Playlist for Country Folks Living in the City

I work in the fast-paced world of software and live in the fast-paced city of Atlanta. It’s sometimes easy to forget that four years ago I was working at a hardware store and mowing grass on my family’s farm. Like many young professionals in Atlanta and in cities across the country, I’m just a farmboy […]

Read More..

3 Reasons 2018’s Real Song of the Summer is Alan Jackson’s “Chattahoochee”

One of the real pleasures of summertime is stumbling upon that one big hit that everyone you know starts blasting, that every radio station plays, and that seems to be the soundtrack for every fun summer event. Remember “Call Me Maybe”? Of course you do. If there’s anything like it for 2018, I haven’t heard […]

Read More..

Putting the Psalms to Music: My Favorite King David Cover Bands

The Psalms are some of the world’s oldest and most universally-known pieces of poetry. There’s never a time when you won’t scream out in pain or shout out in joy in ways that can’t be expressed in the Psalms. They are fully human in a way that most religious writing isn’t. Even when I’m sick […]

Read More..

Ignore Artist Drama and Enjoy Good Art

So there I was, listening to a ________* song as one does, when the Spotify’s app Genius integration decided to give me the backstory on one of the songs: “By now, everyone’s heard about _______’s beef with _______ and _______.”  “OH, REALLY?” thought I. EVERYONE? I could certainly enjoy the music just fine without having a […]

Read More..

5 Great Film Scores from Disney Movies

Most people know Disney movies for the excellent songs, like “Let It Go,” or “How Far I’ll Go,” or “Under the Sea” (extraordinary song, that one). But less appreciated is the work of the composers who score these films. Here are five Disney film scores worth a listen on their own merits – even without […]

Read More..

Why Radio (Still) Matters

They say FM radio is dying. And to some extent, they’re right. FM radio is playing only the hits. But Spotify, Apple Music, and the like have made it possible for just about anyone to play any song, anywhere, at any time. Music has become fully individualized, and that is a very good thing. In part of music streaming […]

Read More..

The Psychological Benefits of Contradicting Yourself, Listening to Taylor Swift, Etc.

From time to time, the most rational and serious and wise thing we can do is to embrace the silly and the seemingly contradictory in our personalities. We all adapt to get through our days in a changing world. But the mental states we need to succeed in some situations can be different than the ones that are life-giving elsewhere. […]

Read More..

The Ultimate All-Decades Dance Party Playlist

Music has gone through a lot of changes over the years, but some things always stay the same. Music has almost always been about people in love. And if you know anything about people falling in love, you know that dancing is far and away one of humans’ most popular ways to get down to […]

Read More..