Dylan Jones: If you ask me

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The Independent Online

If you ask me, you can tell almost all you need to know about a person by asking them what sort of music they like. And while that's the sort of question usually only asked by boys between the ages of 12 and 18, I was asked it a few weeks ago by someone I'd never met before. And even though I could have easily beaten it back by saying something flippant, I was stumped.

The American writer Chuck Klosterman said recently that, having for many years experimented with a litany of abstract responses when asked this question, he has started to say, with some honesty as well as accuracy, "Music that sounds like the opening 14 seconds of Humble Pie's 'I Don't Need No Doctor', as performed live on their 1971 album Performance: Rockin' the Fillmore."

Now, never having heard this record, I couldn't comment, but apparently it has the desired effect, the reply having the added bonus of significantly changing the conversation, or ending it entirely.

Usually the answers to questions like these are either endearingly banal – "Oh, the usual, you know, ABBA, the Beatles, a bit of Coldplay" – unbearably pretentious – "the first five Fall singles and pretty much nothing before or since" – or, in the case of politicians, simply lies.

Having thought about it myself, I think I'm going to adopt Chuck's policy. Initially I thought of just saying "Steely Dan", because it not only shows confidence (they're not really what anyone could call cool) but like Marmite, they are an acquired taste, and unless you're an aficionado, you'll probably hate them.

However, like Chuck, I've decided to be annoyingly specific, and while I thought about concurring with Danny Baker, who thinks that their second album Countdown to Ecstasy is their best, or singing the praises yet again of their sixth, Aja, the next time someone asks me what kind of music I like I'm going to say, having first locked them in with my most sincere stare, "Music that sounds like the second guitar solo in 'Green Earrings', the one that arrives after two minutes and seven seconds, the one that makes you feel as though you're cruising over the Florida Keys' seven-mile bridge in a rented Mustang."

What kind of music do you like?

Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'

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