It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when it happened, but the civilization we live in is divided. Lines deeper than partisan ones, darker than racial ones, and wider than socioeconomic ones exist among us. These lines form two distinct groups, with two distinct ways of live: They are the music people, and the lyrics people.
It seems a cultural development like music should produce nothing but harmony amongst mankind. After all, it’s taking sounds (and words) and manipulating them in such a way that they convey emotional messages, and sometimes entirely emotionless messages about money and bitches. Nevertheless, when you have a roomful of Americans appreciating Cyndi Lauper, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Blink-182 or Massive Attack, there will always be those who almost exclusively hear the words, and those who almost exclusively hear the music. And once they get out of their seats and leave that room, they will go out into the world and do everything differently.
Here, I hope to demonstrate that just knowing about someone’s musical/lyrical preference makes it possible to predict how they would handle other things. Take a look at yourself. Are you wearing a non-vintage sport coat in a business-casual environment, verbally flagging down the waitress to get a refill on your diet coke as you glance at your analog watch? You might be a lyrics person. Are you sitting alone in your car in the parking lot of a small, neighborhood hair salon, waiting for the right time to go in and trying to decide how you’d feel with short sideburns? You might be a music person. Was I close? Here are a few other situations:
Buying a car: Since lyrics people like things that make sense on the surface, they might buy a nice, safe SUV or a well-respected Beamer. Music people, who treasure the soul of an auto more than its logical value, might get a used Carmen Gia or an imported Peugot, because, sweet.
Choosing a Mexican restaurant: Music people want to appreciate the small details, like the hole in the wall where the guacamole is rumored to be legendary. Lyrics people go for the bigger picture, like Baja Fresh or Sombrero. Both, however, are still irked at the sight of Spanish rice.
Reading a book: Lyrics people might grab the books everyone’s talking about, like the latest Harry Potter, or an Anne Rice vampire novel, and use them to be up on the gab at work. Music people might dive into old poets like Bukowski and Ginsberg, and use them to seem distant and moody at odd points in the conversation.
Picking an outfit: Lyrics people would likely wear what’s appropriate for the occasion or what will (hopefully) get them laid, and music people would wear whatever they always wear, everywhere, all the time, and it usually does get them laid.
Throwing a party: Music people, who want to have good times in a comfortable setting, move the clutter out of the way, clear a spot on the table for card games, turn on a couple of cool, colored lights, buy a bunch of vodka and put Velvet Underground on the stereo. Lyrics people, who want to give a good presentation, clean the whole house, buy party favors, make hors d’oeuvres, get a keg and some wine, and bump Kanye. The cops are inevitably called on both.
Ordering a mixed drink: Lyrics people: Mai Tais, Long Island iced teas, mojitos, martinis or margaritas. Music people: vodka tonic, vodka tonic, vodka tonic, vodka tonic, and sometimes vodka tonic.
Driving in traffic: This is the one area where music people and lyrics people agree, at least based on what can be seen on California’s highways. Music people: deeply engrossed in the music, oblivious to everything around them, driving like a psycho. Lyrics people: wildly singing the lyrics, oblivious to everything around them, driving like a psycho.