… that if the new book, The World in Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature, by Daniel J. Levitin (author of This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession, which I never quite finished) doesn’t come with a CD of the tunes he’s talking about I just might be lost. (But I was lost with TiYBoM as well, since he’s coming from a pop place.) I don’t know titles of a lot of songs. My kids will be talking pop music and I’ll say, “Sing some of it,” and then I’ll realize I know something. Otherwise I’m probably a goner.

Let’s see …

What do the following scenes have in common? A pubescent boy becomes the star of his sleep-away camp by introducing his bunkmates to Poison’s heavy-metal hit “Talk Dirty to Me”; a young man learns to fear Janis Ian’s “At Seventeen” because it is the one song his mother always plays when his father doesn’t come home at night; a prospective groom and bride give their D.J. instructions not to play any sexually explicit hip-hop jams that might perplex guests of a certain age.

No, I don’t know “Talk Dirty to Me”. Yes, I know “At Seventeen”. I highly doubt I know a single hip-hop tune. I’m just sort of pathetic that way. Or 51. Or both.


  1. You probably know hip-hop songs w/o being aware of it the same way other people know classical music w/o being aware of it.

  2. Heh, you’re probably correct. That’s why I have to ask my kids about stuff … they fill me in! 🙂

  3. I flipped through it in the bookstore–for what it’s worth, they’re not actually six songs but six overarching reasons for writing songs (religion, love, children, etc.)

  4. Yes, I did read that, Emily. I’ll probably check it out of the library at some point. I’m still reading Musicophilia, and that will probably take me some time. I’m pretty slow to get through books, and read a couple at a time, too, which means I’m even slower.

  5. Don’t worry – http://www.sixsongs.net has EVERY song mentioned in the book. (And yourbrainonmusic.com has every song mentioned in that book)

  6. Ah, got it. Perhaps I’ll have to check those out. It’s always interesting to realize how many songs I do actually know. (I’m sure SongMonk is right about that!)

  7. I am so relieved to know I’m not the only one who didn’t finish “This is Your Brain On Music”.


  8. I think the book is geared more toward the pop market rather than the classical musician. But maybe that’s just my snobbishness showing.

  9. How is Musicophilia? I read “This is Your Brain” and was sort of unimpressed, but I have Musicophilia too.

  10. Musicophilia is a fun read, and it’s so interesting to read about people who suffer from different “music issues” … I do feel for those who hear music and only hear what sounds like pots and pans or other noise. (Although is suppose some will say that pots and pans ARE music?!) The book isn’t what I would call literature, but it’s very interesting.