Is there a difference between what you like and what is good?

Talking about ‘taste’
By SAM PFEIFLE  |  October 17, 2012


Charlie Gaylord is one of Maine's proprietors of what is good. As the head of Cornmeal Records, he has put out eight Greetings from Area Code 207 compilations of music produced here in Maine, and he weekly puts forward new local music to those who listen into WBLM's GFAC 207 radio show on Sunday mornings.

He's therefore well situated to talk about one of my favorite topics of discussion: Taste. Why is it that we like what we like, and why is it that what one person likes sometimes resonates so well with a larger community of people?

So, this month, we spent 10 minutes talking about it. Read it here, and watch the video online at

TASTE IS SOMETHING THAT I STRUGGLE WITH WHEN I'M WRITING MY REVIEWS FOR THE PHOENIX BECAUSE I TRY TO SEPARATE OUT WHAT I LIKE AND WHAT I THINK IS OBJECTIVELY GOOD. OR WHAT OTHER PEOPLE WILL LIKE. AND OBVIOUSLY WHAT I LIKE IS NOT NECESSARILY WHAT OTHER PEOPLE WILL LIKE. HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHAT TO PUT ON ONE OF THESE DISCS? HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHAT TO PLAY ON YOUR SHOW? You know, no one's ever asked me that. I started it initially because I thought there was enough good stuff to make a disc. And so I never really thought about it, other than it's the stuff that I like. There's good music and there's not good music. I think everybody thinks that they have good taste and I don't presume to say that I have good taste, but people seem to like the stuff that I pick out.

ONE TIME I WAS TALKING WITH MARK CURDO, A DJ OVER AT 'CYY, AND HE TOLD ME HE COULD TELL WITHIN ABOUT 10 SECONDS WHETHER HE LIKES A SONG OR NOT. DO YOU HAVE THAT SAME REACTION? YOU HIT PLAY AND YOU KNOW RIGHT AWAY WHETHER THIS SONG IS GOOD OR, "THIS SONG IS DEAD TO ME?" I do. But there are lots of instances where there are songs I didn't like and later on it became a favorite of mine. I think it can kind of go both ways. But there are certain things I listen for in terms of quality of recording and music and just whether it's interesting or not.

THAT'S ONE THING I TRY NOT TO DO AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. I THINK ONE OF THE THINGS THAT GOOD MUSIC DOES IS IT KINDS OF BUILDS ON YOU. THE SECOND AND THIRD TIME YOU LISTEN TO IT YOU'RE LIKE, "WOW, THIS IS BETTER THAN I THOUGHT IT WAS." AND THOSE SONGS THAT I LIKE RIGHT AWAY IT'S BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT THEY'RE DESIGNED TO DO; THEY'RE POPPY OR WHATEVER AND THEY'RE BUILT FOR YOU TO RESPOND RIGHT AWAY AND THEN AFTER FIVE PLAYS YOU SORT OF HATE IT. Well, I agree that sometimes you hear a song and you like it right away and you want to hear it over and over, and then the next day you're sick of it. There's just some stuff that doesn't last. And I think that's the essence of pop music. There are songs that you like right away. There are songs that you really have to listen to. One of my favorite bands of the '90s was Wilco, and I used to listen to their records and I never liked them when I first heard them, but six months later it would be one of my favorite records of that year. I think with good music there are layers that you have to get through.

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