Jamie Block – How We Listen

Yesterday, we premiered Jamie Block's music video for "Show You Mine" from his new album White Caps on the Hudson. Today we have a guest post from Jamie called "How We Listen," which nicely connects with our mission:


Here’s the problem: everybody listens to music differently. Some folks like to hear it in the background and wait for something to catch their ear; others can’t stand to have any distractions – usually preferring to listen for shorter but more intense periods of time. Me? I fall in the latter category. Put me in a car for 30 minutes and I can get it done. Another advantage of car listening is that I am – ahem – alone. Yes it’s true – I have “listening anxiety.” I can’t bear to have someone watch me listen. I think it all started back in college when this guy Tim would roam around the dorm looking for anyone to “check out this new song I just wrote.” The truth is the songs weren’t half-bad, but the fact that he put me on the spot made me long for the Veruca Salt chute. He stared at you while he was singing, waiting to see your reaction. VERY uncomfortable.

Background music frankly gives me the creeps. I was recently in Miami and it seemed the whole city had a ubiquitous club beat piping through every corridor, restaurant, elevator, and lobby. I think I’d rather have it in my face. I want it loud and proud, except when I don’t. If I am really honest with myself, I have to admit that there is no discernible pattern to this whole thing. Case in point:  why all this insistence that the perfect listening environment be achieved for a new song to stick? I was in, yep, Starbucks not long ago and heard a song that made me put my phone down. I immediately became fixated on finding out what it was. The chords were a haunting progression that stunned me. I harangued the overworked counter staff, who weren’t eager to leave the ten-deep line to satisfy my curiosity, until they unearthed the entry on the playlist: a song called “Virginia Moon” by the Foo Fighters.

So who knows where your next favorite song is going to come from? My favorite way to listen to music lately is Spotify. It lets you link songs in a stream-of-consciousness way, but you can also create repeatable playlists. How’s this for stream-of-consciousness? My friend and I were curious about Walt Whitman’s voice, and were instantly able, using Spotify, to hear a cylinder recording of the great American bard’s voice. Pretty cool—and pretty loud.

-Jamie Block


You can go to Jamie's website to listen to and purchase Whitecaps on the Hudson as well as his other albums. Like him on Facebook here and follow him on Twitter here. He's got some other cool videos for tracks on the album coming soon, like "Black Eyed Susan," "Henry," and "Kate." Also, he plays tomorrow night at Spike Hill at 10:00. It's a free show, doors at 7:30, show at 8:00, and on the bill with him are the Indie Rock Live Band Karaoke Brunch and the Gowanus Collective. More info here.