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The Column

Turn That Crap Off
10/16/05

When you have a passenger in your car, is it your responsibility to have music acceptable to the passenger? It depends on the circumstances. The answer is clearly yes, when anyone is driving but me.

I kid, I kid. I also do what I can as a responsible driver to avoid Ashlee Simpson. And Kelly Clarkson. And Justin Timberlake. And really most solo artists right now. I never realized it before, but wow do most of them suck.

If you like their music, I don't apologize. I'm sure we could find something else we agree on. I love old school hip hop. If you don't listen to Tribe Called Quest, I like classic rock, too. If you're not a fan of CCR, how about something more current? If you say no to Green Day, we could try some sports talk. If you avoid ESPN, what about comedy? Richard Pryor isn't for you? Fine, get out of the car.

That's the responsibility of a driver. To try find something both parties agree on. I say both parties and not all parties because if you're in the back seat, the driver doesn't like you enough to care.

It is the driver's prerogative to play whatever music they like, as long as it doesn't upset their passengers. Though the driver gets more leeway on a long road trip because the driving is tougher, and there are fewer good radio stations. Try driving through the Appalachian Mountains sometime without satellite and see if you can pick up a station that doesn't play faith-based country music. If you're into that, that's your prerogative, but you won't find it playing in my car.

"I lost my girl and my dog cause of bad behavior; thank god I still got my truck and my savior."

Speaking of "prerogative," I learned that word from Bobby Brown's "It's My Prerogative." Apparantly, it means the ability to do what you want to do. But it's a song you won't hear in my car. Except when it's running through your head, like it is now. Take that, Ashlee Simpson fans. "Everybody's talking, all this stuff about me…"

The driver of a commercial vehicle, however, should listen to what the passenger wants. It is bad enough that I can't control the smell or the climate in most cabs. But I'm not paying $85 a mile to hear Sri Lanka's greatest hits. Though they're still preferable to Ashlee Simpson.

I am not suggesting that all cab drivers in America are foreign. American cabbies listen to terrible music, too. I don't like music at all in a cab. Though lately it's been drowning out the sound of the cabbie's cell phone.

All the music in a cab sucks, I just happen to pick one example. Just like plenty more music sucks than Ashlee Simpson, Kelly Clarkson, and Justin Timberlake. That Justin Guarini guy sucks, too. Maybe solo artists named Justin suck. Or maybe just solo artists who are manufactured, antiseptic, and have nothing real to sing about.

I also find cabbies listening to news radio. Even THAT we disagree on, since the only news radio I like is the BBC. I find it much more informative when the stress is on the second syllable of "Bagh-DAD."

This morning I took a shared ride van to the airport, and the driver was listening to cool jazz the whole way. Though it could have been smooth jazz - I am not versed enough in crappy imitations of real jazz to know the difference. If he wanted to listen to Miles or Duke or Louis or Ella or Billie or Count or just about any of the great jazz musicians, I'd be okay with it. But he wanted to listen to some guy randomly tapping on a saxophone with no regard for beat, measure, or eardrums.

With three other passengers seemingly enjoying this cat scratch fervor, I couldn't protest. In this case, I was the minority - the driver was playing music that most of the van enjoyed. I wondered if all three other passengers were deaf, and I had boarded the wrong van. But there was nothing I could do - it was their prerogative, and I couldn't say what I wanted to say. Which was, "this music sucks! For the love of anything holy, change it! Or kill me now!" Saying that probably would have been rude.

After the flight, I picked up a rental car and programmed all 12 pre-sets before even leaving the lot. There are only 11 stations in Columbus, Ohio I actively want to listen to, but I left a country Jesus station in there. I may need another column sometime.

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