How would I describe my own musical tastes? Oh I'd say varied, eclectic, and somewhat cosmopolitan. And being keenly aware of my lack of objectivity, I thought I'd ask my husband while we were on our way to meet friends for dinner:
"You know how I always refer to your musical tastes as White Guys With Guitars?"
"Well if you could describe my musical tastes in one phrase or one word, what would it be?" (This is the part where he was supposed to say "varied, eclectic, and cosmopolitan.")
"BLACK. Black gospel, black hip-hip, black rap. All black everything."
"Wow. Okay, I wasn't expecting that answer."
"And then there's like Lauryn Hill and her whole genre..."
"Uh, I guess that's like borderline hip-hop and R&B. I mean she sings and raps so I guess it depends on the song. So then would you say that being in an interracial marriage--specifically being married to me--has broadened your musical horizons?"
"I mean you've introduced me to a few artists I hadn't heard of like Robin Thicke
After our conversation I started thinking about the idea of music "having race" and I took a quick inventory of my iTunes library. Now this doesn't happen often, but my husband was actually right. The only non-black artists I'd purchased over the last couple of years were Robin Thicke (of course), one Sugarland single (which I only bought after overhearing the performance on my in-laws' television while they were watching the Country Music Awards, I was probably on the computer checking my email), The Departed soundtrack, a Hillsongs CD, and compilations of Italian Jazz and Bossa Nova that I purchased for a friend's Italian-themed bridal shower.
Then I thought back two years when we had friends over for pre-Thanksgiving dinner before heading down to Maryland to spend the holiday with my family. My husband created a playlist that grated my last good nerve and consisted of three albums: The Fray: Acoustic in Nashville, The Fray by The Fray, and The Fray Live). By dessert and our first round of Imaginiff, I'd had enough of this "Fray Lovefest" and did what any reasonable woman in my position would have done: I put on my New Jack Swing Gold album. Oh yeah. I went there. All the way back to the late-1980s into the mid-1990s. And as soon as I hit Track 3 and Guy let out that first "Groove me" all of the black people in the room (all three of us) gathered around the stereo yelling, "Oh! That's my JAM," got our respective grooves on, and began reminiscing about middle and high school. Meanwhile our spouses (none of whom are black) just stared in utter confusion.
These moments reinforce the fact that we don't have to be the same to be in love. We have enough differences that if we wanted to dwell on them we could dwell all day long. Some areas of our lives continue to evolve and develop with time while other things--like New Jack Swing or George Strait or Fela Kuti or KC and the Sunshine Band--that stay with us no matter where we find ourselves on life's journey. My husband may never come to enjoy Richard Smallwood as much as I do, but it's nice to know that if I've got an extra ticket to one of his concerts, he wants to be there with me. And while I'll never be as avid of a follower of Brendan James (who actually plays the piano, not the guitar) as my husband, it's nice to know that when he drags me along--oops--I mean when I tag along, that we can always get in our special request (my apologies in advance for the poor video quality, Brendan is the smaller, fuzzy mass on the right-side of the screen):