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June 20, 2012

Poor Tom's Almanac: Striking the right musical balance

Whenever I host a party, whether it's at my home or lake-side retreat, the menu flows naturally. I usually leave that business to my wife, who's much more adept at kitchen affairs than I could ever hope to become.

But I can't seem to hit the right note when it comes to selecting background music.

Do I play New Age? Or do I turn to soft rock? I'm an opera buff but many people do not share my passion for it, just as I don't care for their country or hard rock.

It depends upon the crowd, you say. The youngsters like rap. The middle-aged prefer nostalgia. The elderly seem to have an affinity for Big Band sounds.

So what happens when your party consists of three generations?

A recent family gathering sent my head spinning. My cousin wanted Neil Diamond. For all I know, he may have dated a sweet girl named Caroline.

No sooner had the crooner hit the speakers when the first complaint was filed. "Gads, that music is giving me a headache. Can't you find something a bit more soothing?"

"Sure," I said. "I have just the thing — some Yo-Yo Ma on the cello with flute mixed in."

"You want to put us to sleep?" said another. "Speed it up a bit, will you?"

"I got just the thing," an 18-year-old intervened. She went to the car and brought back Madonna, which nearly blew the roof off the house. Can't say I mind the singer, but some of her music tends to be a bit too raucous for my taste.

Other people seem to have the same problem. I cannot go to a wedding without some disc jockey blaring his amps over dinner. It's often so loud that I can't carry on a conversation with the guest beside me.

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