This is something that has been rattling around in my head for years, and I am glad that Andycyca brought it up, because now I can write my riposte. Although I had always thought of it from the viewpoint of the question: "What type of music do you like?".

Back in the 1990s, when I was a teenager, this was one of the first things you would ask, when meeting a stranger in a social situation. From the time I had my first awkward interactions as a chubby, pasty 13 year old who had just started seriously listening to that clock radio, to the time I went "away to college" when I was 19, up into my early 20s, after we had mp3 sharing, this was the question that we would use to discern who might have common interests or viewpoints. We were too young to have jobs, and were perhaps shy about our hobbies, and so as we entered our teenage years, we started using musical subcultures to form and communicate our personas. Sharing this information was a way to give a little minibiography. My own, which I have practiced over the years, is "I grew up listening to classic rock, but then as a teenager I got into grunge and alternative, I was into old school hip-hop for a few years, but now that I am older I like jazz and other instrumental music". This is a true, but very calculated answer, and even before giving that out, I sometimes wonder how much to edit.

There is one key difference between Andy and me: I live in a United States that currently has a ridiculous level of political and social division that is hinted and insinuated at through everything, including, of course, taste in music. Of course, this was always the case: even as a teenager, there was connotations of class and education in whether you preferred grunge rock over heavy metal. Did you prefer the loud screaming of Kurt Cobain, small town boy who went away to art school and who was generally salty about social injustice, or did you prefer the loud screaming of Axl Rose, small city boy who went away to LA to give voice to disaffected white kids? When you were 16, in 1997, this question meant a lot. But in 2021, after years of "culture war", even innocent questions about taste become a way to measure each other up. I sometimes refrain from mentioning liking hip-hop, because I don't want to deal with a reply of "rap is so misogynist", which is a stale talking point from someone whose exposure to rap was watching a 60 Minutes episode in 1992. On the other hand, I will also edit my tastes to not mention anything too pretentious. Because if I say I like Belle & Sebastian (which I do), two bad things will happen: I will have to explain that they are a Scottish folk rock group, or worse, the other person likes Belle & Sebastian too.

I own one t-shirt advertising my musical tastes, and I chose it carefully: it is a picture of Jimi Hendrix. Jimi Hendrix was a wildly innovative and creative musician, but is also a classic rock staple. He is also, notably, the most popular black musician for most white Americans, for several generations. I use the picture of Jimi Hendrix to give a hint of my general and social political leanings, as much as about my musical tastes. But I also do it in a way that gives me plausible deniability: this is also the image of a classic rock staple whose music was rarely overtly political.

If "A little bit of everything" doesn't tell the questioner much, that is for me, and for many people in the United States, be design, because dodging the question of musical taste is a great way to avoid being pigeonholed, analyzed for social background, or getting into a social or political debate. And I know that might sound crazy, but that is where we are right now.