Musicians: Do you deconstruct songs you listen to? Is that a good thing?

I’ve had friends say to me that understanding music theory has made music less fun for them because they can’t hear it without analyzing it.

That’s never made sense to me, because subconscious analysis is how we identify different songs in the first place.

A brief example. The Rolling Stones song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” is basically a I-IV-I-IV progression for 90% of the tune. I know that, and I hear that, I but I don’t hear I-IV-I-IV, I hear notes that are in a pleasing pattern, and the words I use to identify those notes are “one chord” and “four chord”.

Music theory is about being able to communicate about things our bodies understand already.

Musical analysis of a good song actually enhances the magic for me. On a first listen, I may not pay too much attention, but if the song catches my attention, I’ll go back and give it an active listen. I’ll hear all these cool things happening beneath the main melody, and each time I listen to it, I hear something new I hadn’t noticed before. Eventually, I’ll have “gotten” everything there is to “get” about a song, musically, and then I can listen to it as a cohesive whole, hearing how it all meshes together into the final product, and that will just blow me away way more than any unanalytical listen could have ever done (whoa, call the grammar police on that one).

A mediocre to crappy song, however, will most likely ellicit a stronger negative reaction from me – so it does detract from my appreciation of the large majority of mass-produced, mass-consumed music we hear floating around in the mainstream media. They’re probably unworthy of my appreciation anyway, so no real loss, right? (Oh no, I can’t appreciate Hoobastank like everyone else does! Woe is me!)

On the other hand, it is absolutely heartbreaking to have a musically well-crafted song absolutely crushed under the weight of horrible lyrics.

Yes I do - but I’m an amateur (but busy amateur) musician. By profession I am a child psychotherapist and because I deconstruct songs I asked this very question of Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze who asked in return; Do you analyze every child you meet?
Me - ‘No, but, well, sometimes I can’t stop.’
He said ‘Well its the same for me; if I did it all day long I’d go mad - but when a good one comes along - you can’t stop yourself’
Works beautifully for me.