A lot of the music I like, just doesn’t sound very good walking around Beijing. When I get the chance to listen to music here, it’s usually on my ipod to and from work. The crush and hustle of the morning and evening commute generally dictate what sounds good.
Bluegrass, one of my favorite genres, sounds awful here. I don’t know know why. Maybe Beijing is too gritty and bluegrass needs sunlight to make sense. For whatever reason I can’t stand listening to bluegrass on my ipod anymore. I do still enjoy seeing bluegrass live, especially the stuff my friend Randy Able has put together. I haven’t deleted my bluegrass stash, but I’ve thought about it.
Sonic Youth, on the other hand, sounds great in Beijing. I would never listen to them in the US, it was too harsh and derivative for me, but I find myself listening to Daydream Nation and Murray Street once or twice a week on the way to work.
Music is dictated by context to a large degree, something we take for granted.