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Same Difference


Fidelity is a virtue akin to habit and rooted in the inertia of animal life, which would run amok without trusty allies and familiar signals. We have an inveterate love of The Same, because our mortal condition obliges us to reconsider facts and to accumulate possessions; by instinct both the heart and the intellect hug everything they touch, and to let anything go is a sort of death to them.

George Santayana, from Cloud Castles, 1919


This is why I know all the words to “Laughter in the Rain,” by Neil Sedaka. And why I get my third cousins mixed up with Billy Joel’s. And yet, when I hear the guitar intro to “Hotel California,” I want someone to break my windshield with a crowbar and steal the car radio. I feel particularly kidnapped and tortured by the Eagles songbook. So, I conclude, sameness suffers from diminishing returns. Like caffeine.

The playlists of SiriusXM, welcomed and subscribed to as the antidote to the insanity of The Same, also fall victim to the human pull toward the familiar. If you like “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen, you’ll love “When We Were Young” by The Killers (minus the sax which is a plus, no disrespect to CC). If you like songs off Court and Spark by Joni Mitchell, you will love “For the Summer” by Ray La Montagne (he’s got a whole arsenal of heavy influences and he wears them well). If you like Paul Simon circa Graceland, give Vampire Weekend a try, but please don’t tell them Paul sent you. If you like “Hello,” by Lionel Richie, you will go crazy for “Three Times a Lady” by The Commodores. Those two dudes sound exactly the same. And you will cry. Against your will.

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