Whenever you meet new people standard 'getting to know you' questions crop up. I hate those questions. Possibly because my answers, the real ones anyway, tend not to be all that standard.
If someone asks who’s your favourite singer I know what my friends would say: Elton John, Maroon 5 or Bon Jovi. The person asking the question would probably nod in approval, because even if they weren't their favourite artist they could understand the answer. They are all well-known great artists. These answers conform within the parameters of expectation.
Mine answers… well, not so much.
I love country music.
Are you raising an eyebrow at me right now? Don't worry you're not alone. It's actually the standard response I get. Admitting to be a country music fan when you live in the UK is a little unusual. Don't get me wrong, I'm not alone, but I just have never found another fan in a work environment.
However, my music tastes aren’t restricted to one genre. I love all sorts of music. Music is a powerful emotive tool. It can connect with you in a way that's often hard to describe. A particular song can fit a moment in a way that none other could do. It could be the feeling it evokes, or the lyrics that speak to you with such clarity at that precise minute. It could be a genre that at any other time wouldn't have appealed, an artist you’ve never liked before, or lyrics that could have passed you by without meaning on a different day.
My favourite track, like my favourite book, can vary in the moment. At different times in my life different things resonate with me. They can be a way of expressing something I’d felt unable to define, or they could provide clarity to a situation, a way of making me step back and reassess.
I’ve been told that not having an overarching favourite is a sign that I don’t know myself enough to know what I like. Other people sometimes think l haven’t formed strong enough opinions of my own, or that I am indecisive.
Or perhaps I recognise that l am always evolving, always changing.
My favourite book as a child was White Boots by Noel Streatfield, because to me, at that time, it represented what I wanted to be: not just a figure skater but a quiet child that could rise above their restrictions and do something different and unexpected. That book resonated with me as a child, in a way no other did at the time. And eventually I did get to take up figure skating. It took a few years. Many actually. But I did it. Not quite as successfully as Harriet in the novel, but then that was never really the point.
Does that mean this should still be my favourite book as an adult?
Personally I don't think so.
That doesn't mean it’s not still important to me. It will always hold a special place in my heart. But that’s the great thing about books, we can always carry them with us. A character can linger long after the book has been finished. An idea, or even line, can inspire us, it can cause us to reflect on our own situations, our own characteristics, our own choices, or maybe help us to understand someone else’s.
To me, song lyrics have the same potential.
For the last few years my favourite song has been I'm Movin’ On by Rascal Flatts. Yes, I love this band and can probably sing along (in private) to every one of their tracks. But that isn't what makes this particular track my favourite. It just happens that this song speaks to me at a time of great change in my life. It provided clarity when I was unsure of myself and the decisions was trying to make, and even now, it’s a reminder to me to stay the course and have faith that the choices I made were the right ones.
During this time other tracks have resonated. They remind me of moments and of people. Maroon
5's Daylight reminds me of parting with someone I loved. It was our goodbye, one neither of us wanted but circumstances dictated. That track reminds me of the sadness I felt at knowing our time together was ending, but it also reminds me of how amazing it had been to have him in my life.
It no longer makes me cry to hear it. Even though we’re not together anymore we’ve found a way to remain friends. We don't talk every day. He has a new life, so do I. That track reminds me of the moment I lost my boyfriend. But it also reminds me that even now I’ve still kept my best friend. Our relationship has changed. It had too. But I’m glad we didn't lose that connection.
At some point I’ll have a new favourite song. One that reflects the changes I’ve made and the new life I've created. One that reminds me of the past but also inspires my future. One that resonates with me at that point in my life. Because my life, like my tastes, should never stand still.