Piped-In Music in Public Spaces

One of the beauties of public, or even faux-public, space is that it provides the opportunity to take in the layered sounds of life (including, occasionally, the sound of silence). What a pleasure it is to let your thoughts unfold to a beat that hasn’t been orchestrated by the marketing team.

But head out to Town Square, which in most ways is a pleasant and relatively inoffensive place, and you’re likely to be pursued by the voice of Huey Lewis, who is singing “Stuck With You.” The speakers lurk everywhere, like land mines. You cannot avoid them, outrun them, or wish them away. If you begin to think your own thoughts in such a place, rest assured you’ll soon be thinking Huey’s thoughts instead. This, make no mistake, is what they want: consumers powerless to resist the lure of Reagan-era good cheer. “Yes, I am happy to be stuck with you!” I feel better already.

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