What Does Your Music Reveal about You?

animated gif of phenakistoscope image of a couple waltzing
Eadweard Muybridge’s Phenakistoscope: A Couple Waltzing. Animated gif version created by Trialsanderrors. Used under Creative Commons license.

Do you have an iPod or similar audio player? Try this: put your device on shuffle/random, and write down the first 10 tracks that play. Post them in the comments if you’re willing!

What does this collection say about you?

Think about one of your characters. What tracks would play on this person’s device (if they had one)? You can post that list too, if you like.

I hope you find some insight into yourself or your characters. See the comments to read my list and add your own!

Join the Conversation


  1. Here is what I got, more or less, based on what I remember, from the shuffle that inspired this idea:
    1. Random audio track from the Philip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? The most memorable line is something like “Don’t call him a chickenhead,” said Imgard. “Think what he could call you.”
    2. Robert Frost poem, something about an owl flying at a windowpane and children getting startled. I don’t know the poem, but I recognized Frost’s voice. I almost skipped it, but hey. The old man deserves respect.
    3. A poem entitled “Men” by Dorothy Parker. In it, she complains that men praise women for being themselves and then try to change them. (I usually hear this complaint more about women than men.)
    4. Dylan Thomas reading somebody else’s poem that has a very simple meter and rhyme scheme. I forget all content.
    5. Finally, a song! Amazing! “Me quieren” by Silvio Rodriguez.
    6. “Silent Night/7 O’Clock News” by Simon and Garfunkel.
    7. Something by Joni Mitchell, the one where she says “So I send up my prayers, wonderin’ who’s there to hear.” The beginning was cut off. A bad rip? This was from the days when I still got music on CDs. When I actually bought albums.
    8. Galway Kinnell reading a poem about getting an erection while on a bus. Seriously. Because he’s willing to write about even that. And you should listen to it, because it’s amazing. Kinnell is amazing. The only person whose voice is better than his is James Merrill. (Not including Dylan Thomas, who is in a category all his own.)
    9. Alfred Lord Tennyson reading something, the one that has “theirs is not to reason why, theirs is but to do and die.” So that’s from a poem. Wow. Also, can you believe there is a recording of Tennyson reading??? It sounds like it was done on an original Edison wax cylinder. You have to turn the volume way up, and you can still barely understand him. But how amazing to know (more or less) what his voice sounded like.
    10. Stephen King, a section of On Writing, the part where he talks about what the ideal writer’s retreat would be like, based on one he read about in a book.

    Somewhere toward the beginning of this list, there was also a radio interview with Isaac Asimov on his 70th birthday. I remembered it later, after I already had 10 things.

    Please post yours! I really want to see it!

  2. okay, my permanent residence is the past, but if I pick out ten CDs at random–or should I pick my last 10 youtubes?
    In any event, this is a wonderfully characterizing list!

  3. Keiko, the Tennyson poem is The Charge of the Light Brigade. I am pretty sure we learned that one in eighth grade. I might have even had to recite some or all of it. We used to have to memorize poetry. We did Frost too, but I don’t recognize that line. The man was incredibly prolific. We mainly memorized poems with easy rhyme schemes.

    1. Thanks, Betsy! Oh, and I found out today (while listening to a random track) that the recording was actually done on an Edison wax cylinder in 1888! And there’s also a recording of Whitman! I have to look for that.

      I don’t remember if I ever had to memorize poems in school, except for once in Spanish class, but I love to memorize and recite poems. I went to this amazing event in Sebastopol once, where people sat around in a darkened living room and took turns reciting poems we knew. It was like a conversation except in verse. I’d love to host something like that. Would you want to participate if I did?

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.