Friday, February 1, 2008

Column:
You're Never Too Old to Appreciate Music

By Nicole Pope

My friends fall into three categories. One, those who ravenously follow new music to the point that they've barely had time to digest an album before the next one comes along (myself included). Two, those who faithfully follow their favorite music from, say, ten years ago. And three, those who fall somewhere in between. The third group is probably the most balanced, sane, and well adjusted. The ones I worry about are not the music whores, but those who have essentially given up on music that isn't force-fed via their local radio.

A friend has a fitting proclamation on his Myspace profile right now: "I live for music... constantly listening to it and going to concerts since I still haven't made that last step of growing up." Certainly I'm pleased music is a big part of his life, though his comment echoes a common, unfortunate sentiment. That when we grow up, music should stop playing an important role in our lives. That eventually we will settle down with the soundtrack from our youth, just like our parents listening to the oldies station.

Last year Pitchfork writer Mark Richardson talked about how getting older has affected his relationship with music. He writes,

"If you're 22 and listening to college radio, with a dorm building filled with buzzing hard drives packed with files, it's not hard to keep your finger on the pulse and to find new bands that interest you...But for someone who has to work 40 hours a week to pay a mortgage and feed his or her kids...time is precious."
Certainly keeping your finger on the pulse of the music scene can be demanding. And maybe it's only because I don't work a forty-hour week to support a family that I can be so holier-than-thou. Still, I'd like to think that no matter what course my life takes, music will play a pivotal role. Finding new music is demanding, but well worth the time it takes to chat up a music lovin friend or cue up that torrent.

So all of you still clinging to those bands of yesteryear, I'm not asking you to give up on your old favorites. I'm only asking that you consider them a step in your musical journey, one that you will continue to take throughout life.

5 comments:

Hackworth Artifex said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hackworth Artifex said...

Hmmm, I wish you could edit comments. heh

Kathy said...

At nearly 35, I think I do a reasonable job of listening to more than the PearlTemplePilotsInChains of my college years, but it's not always easy.

panopticon said...

I wonder why it counts deleted comments.

Anyway.

I honest to God thought about writing a inspired reply of, "I agree with Femme Fatale, I will always seek out new fantastic music to listen to!"

But I haven't been lately. It's tough putting the effort into finding good new music islands in the seas of overwhelming mediocrity being spoonfed to us. Within specific genres, there are only a few good albums per year worth more than a listen or two. It's disheartening to have the buzz machine trump up every new release every week but have very little of it have any sort of staying power.

Every generation will have its defining songs, and I can only assume they bring back pleasant memories of days of yore as each generation seems to incessantly listen to "pop" songs from its respective era. My parents still listen to music from their eras. For better or worse, we are probably resigned to a lifetime of Smashmouth and Hootie. Our younger siblings the same with Nelly and boy bands. And both of us Green Day.

My theory is this:

- Time filters out all but the greatest music.

Although many songs are generational (hence the prevalence of "format" radio stations - 50s, classic rock, metal, etc.) and every generation will listen to its own music, the greatest transcend genre and generation.

For example, I like a lot of classic rock - The Doors and Jimi Hendrix especially. My mother introduced me to The Beatles, but I introduced her to Sigur Ros. My father introduced me to both classical music and Black Sabbath. It's a bit early to tell but I imagine our kids will listen to Arcade Fire. And we all love Radiohead.

Very little in music is original, so it's fascinating (to me, anyway) to break the more disposable music down to its components of influence, and it gives an even greater appreciation when something truly noteworthy is released.

So, I would say if in need of inspiration in the face of average, disposable music - look backward?

And more importantly, if you see a fellow music lover drowning in that sad mediocre sea out there, toss them a shiny silver life preserver. Blank CDs are so cheap these days and great music is a gift that truly lasts a lifetime.

G said...

Lots of thoughts here... the last stage of growing up is about committment. Taking that job you should because it means a step up in the long term over the one now that allows you to drive 2.5 hours to see Josh Ritter in some shitty bar. Committment is also about settling down and having to share everything including time that you might spend listening to your favorite bands live shows that were just posted by your friend Morst.

I don't think you ever truly give up on finding new music either. It is just about finding the time to experience it. With the internet you have more choice... but you also have more crap to wade through. 99% of the smaller bands could fit into the offshoots of something you've already heard. Only that 1% left keeps you going. And finding those is the most difficult.