Marc Hirsh on one of his music listening rituals, over at NPR:
But for all the romanticizing of the first time we hear an album or a song, that's almost never the moment of its crucial impact. That's not really how music works, not if it can actually hold up beyond that first listen. Unlike books, movies or plays (and television, to a lesser extent), recorded music is consumed repetitively. It's usually anywhere between the second and fifth listen that fragments that maybe weren't evident on first glance suddenly come at you or your brain makes a connection that could only have been made indirectly. That's when a song start to mean something to you.
Of course, there's something to be said about hearing a song and instantly connecting to it; that experience is just as valid as any, and it's certainly happened to me countless times. But that's precisely an experience, a one-off. The songs that are important to us are more like objects or possessions. They aren't bound by any one moment but instead continue to exist as time trundles ahead.