I have an infallible scientific method of telling how old a person is. I can freely share this with you now - it goes like this:
1. Ask the person what their three favourite pop records (or "choons") are and look up their year of release. Let these be x, y and z.
2. Where today's year is T, calculate the person's age as follows:
If this complex Higgs Boson level of sophisticated maths is beyond you, I'm simply repeating the old saying that a person's musical taste is formed and solidified at around 16 years old.
There is a lot of truth in this. 16 years of age is maelstrom of embarrassing acne and hormones which music helps to soothe and establish a generational identity to uniquely differentiate it from those before and those after. This is especially true of baby boomers onwards as previous generations had to just shut up and get on with it or put on uniforms and get killed.
Thinking back, my own musical delights centred on the late 1960's when Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and the Beach Boys were at the peak of their powers. Older music was dismissed as middle-of-the-road meaningless crooning which I would have no part of. Similarly when later music such as Punk Rock or its posh cousin, Prog Rock, came along I decried it all as either talent-free noise or self-obsessed nonsense. I'd staked my territory in time and space with a box of glorious vinyl and the rest could go hang.
Now conventional wisdom decrees that one gets less mentally flexible as one gets older and less able to take on board new experiences. The surprise of growing older is that one actually becomes more tolerant of a wider range of music. (Excuse me, my Tibetan Terrier has just choked on his chewer at the concept of me becoming more tolerant - let me expel him from the room).
This counter-intuitive revelation came to me last week when I heard Nat King Cole's "Let their be Love" on the Radio and thought to myself suddenly that this isn't the "easy listening dross" I'd always dismissed - this is sublime music. The middle piano break where George Shearing just walks off on the piano keys is just perfect and every single note and bass line is pure joy. Suddenly I found myself loving this record.
And there's more. Watching a recording of The Sex Pistols a few days ago I found myself warming considerably to "God Save The Queen" with its raw dynamic and sheer attack and energy. I'd always hated Punk but this stuff really was so much better than my long-held preconceptions had given credit.
I haven't gone completely mad. I would still happily throttle Classical Opera, Justin Bieber and JayZee.