I saw a T-shirt the other day that said, “Am I Getting Older or Are They Just Playing Great Music at the Grocery Store?” Probably both. More than once I’ve caught myself singing in the produce section.
Music enhances most experiences. It’s a key component of both weddings and funerals. As part of the prep for my daughter’s C-section, the obstetrician asked what music she wanted to be playing during her baby’s birth. (It was James Taylor)
I listen to James Taylor, too. He’s my go-to walking soundtrack when I feel like the world is spinning too fast, although sometimes I have to ease myself into his soothing vibe. If my mind is doing its signature hinky squirrel somersaults, I have to meet myself at the corner of Tom Petty and Ed Sheeran and work my way down.
A lot of times, I don’t get to choose what I’m listening to. There is pre-framed music in the background at restaurants; there’s music playing in the dentist’s office, I’m sure all carefully chosen to put you in a receptive mood. Somewhere out there is a person who is looking through a stack of old records thinking, “I don’t know. What would make a person less anxious during a root canal?”
In the grocery store, I’m guessing the object is to make you feel both happy and hungry, a difficult mix. Realistically, you can’t tell what frame of mind shoppers are in when they come through the door. They may be buying wine and roses for an anniversary celebration or power shopping for a family of five with the last half hour they have before the day care center closes. Their music needs are different.
I wonder if anyone has thought of making the grocery store music experience more personal, maybe giving every customer a quarter and letting them select a song from a giant juke box when they get their cart. It would be supportive just to be given that little bit of individual validation and you just might shop a little longer in order to hear your song.
The giant jukebox idea might help increase productivity in the workplace. Same concept, one quarter per person each day. You’d probably learn a lot about your fellow employees, too. You could have guessed that Randall in the mailroom was a Michael Bublé fan, but who knew Greg in accounting had heavy metal tendencies? The playlist would have to be edited for foul language or suggestive lyrics, but my goodness, if someone was bold enough to put a potentially offensive song out there as his/her favorite in this PC world, the HR person might want to do a little intervention anyway.
The concept might not be suited for customer service centers. If you’re calling about an insurance claim, you certainly don’t want to hear, “Can you hold? They’re playing my song.” Instead, the employees could be given dedicated music breaks, and hey, if the music moved them to dance, so much the better.
Every bird has his own song. That’s part of the way we know who he is. For humans, I think music gives voice to something that has trouble coming out in conversation. I’m going to try and remember that the next time I stop at a stoplight and someone is blaring their car radio with the windows rolled down. The poor guy is just trying to share his song. And look cool, which he sometimes isn’t, heaven help him.
One person, one quarter. Sing your song, my friend.