Back in 1978, Brian Eno essentially invented ambient music while spending several months in a hospital bed recovering from a serious car accident. The first of four such experimental albums was Music For Airports, a serious quite contemplative pieces designed to provide musical ambience without being distracting.
He envisioned this music to be perfect for public spaces like airports. In fact, the first place to use his music was the Marine Terminal at LaGuardia Airport in New York.
Things have changed a lot since then. A friend of my was at Pearson Airport in Toronto and emailed me that the music playing at his departure gate was the Smiths' "How Soon Is Now," followed by "Bizarre Love Triangle" from New Order.
But this is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Other airports have moved beyond the non-distracting stuff and are actively using music to sell their cities.
Chicago has jazz, blues and folk recorded by local artists at both O'Hare and Midway. Austin's airport has a 2,400 song playlist drawn from the local scene. You can guess what you hear at Sea-Tac in Seattle.
Read more about this new trend in music for airports. And then have a blissful listen to the way things used to be with Brian Eno.