“Why are you listening to this?”

[MaLj:] Some say it surprises them that I listen to music that they can’t imagine is “my” genre, like some of the older songs by Madonna. Maybe they don’t know I have a history of also listening to Bob Dylan; Elvis Costello; Carole King; Abba; Roxette; Cardigans; Paul Simon; Art Garfunkel; Leonard Cohen; Neil Diamond; Toto; Bryan Ferry; Beatles; Anne Murray; Barbra Streisand; Helen Reddy; Sally Oldfield; Hothouse Flowers; Elton John; Chicago; Blood, Sweat & Tears, and many many more, mostly from the 1970’s. So it seems to be a problem to understand why I am not listening *only* and always to the music I explained many years ago was “my music”: Bach, Beatles, folk songs, romantic Lieder, piano sonatas, hymns, and Christian pop music, but forgetting that I purchased records with and listened to jazz, Tibetan monks, opera, and symphonic music with interest and very little prejudices even then, that long time ago.

[MWM:] No matter what a list like this contains, it should never be a surprise to anyone that a composer would listen attentively to every possible expression. As I attempted to explain, in vain, to our rather dull-witted and intolerant colleague [on an internet forum for composers], the default setting for a composer must be that music is potentially useful, until proven otherwise. Useful comes first, and whether it’s good or bad is, literally, secondary (and therefore trivial), to be discovered after the fact. There are some quite inept performers. for example, who have been instructive to me; I know it, and I know how and why. Groucho Marx singing Gilbert and Sullivan is one such, Anna Russell, Captain Beefheart and Marlene Dietrich some more. I’ve learned things about orchestration and (legato) phrasing from MuzakĀ®, things about rhythm and sonority from Elvis & the Ventures; hell, even a trick or two from the ever-tedious mister Handel..