Too Much

Originally posted July 22, 2009

A friend recently posted this status on his Facebook page:

“The happiness we associate with youth can be attributed to limited resources and purity of experience. An album is more enjoyable when it’s the only one you can afford that month and you’ve only heard 5 good albums in your lifetime. Which leads me to think ipods accelerate unhappiness.”

I responded to this saying I wasn’t sure if I liked it or if it depressed me. Then I started thinking about it. Sure, it talks about youth and happiness in a more broad sense, but does he have a point on the music thing?

I’ve written before about music and memories, and also music and moods. I think they have a huge impact on us. And I have to wonder [cue Carrie Bradshaw voice-over and keyboard clicking sounds] Are the never-ending play lists of iPods (not to mention my newest vice, Pandora – more on that later) doing us a disservice? Our attention spans are shrinking at the same rate as our options are growing. Is our appreciation of music suffering in the information age?

When I got my first car, I had a five-disc CD changer that was located in my trunk. This arrangement made it rather inconvenient to switch those CDs out frequently, and ensured that I listened to those same five albums MANY times through. (Though I’ve never really had problems with listening to the same music over and over and over, anyway.)

My senior year in high school, the following albums were in constant rotation:

Counting Crows – August and Everything After
U2 – Joshua Tree
Dave Matthews Band – Crash
The Cardigans – Life
Third Eye Blind (first album)
Jewel – Pieces of You
The Sundays (whatever album had the crazy doll head on it)
Beatles Anthology III

Combine those with whatever was currently playing on 99X (I remember a lot of “Bittersweet Symphony”), and you pretty much have the soundtrack to my 17th and 18th years. With the frequency I listened to these albums, it’s no wonder they’re nostalgic. I knew every nuance of every warble Jewel uttered on that first record (PLEASE NOTE, this was back when she was just a hippie chick with a guitar. None of the vamped out, glossy pop stuff she did a couple of years ago). And I listened to that Beatles Anthology so much that hearing the final studio recording of Rocky Raccoon still sounds foreign (Paul didn’t crack up in the middle of that one…).

But what will I listen to years from now that will make the memories of THIS era come flooding back? The Gotan Project channel on Pandora? I LOVE music. And I listen to it a lot. And sure, if I find something I really dig I’ll still listen to it over and over, but I feel like I only manage to get one listen in before I’m presented with something else I JUST HAVE TO LISTEN TO.

I’m feeling overwhelmed and over stimulated just thinking about it. Maybe it’s time to step back from all the clutter and focus on just one or two albums for a while.

When I’m not listening to Pandora, that is.

(Artwork courtesy of The Graphics Fairy)

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1 Comment

Filed under Sound

One response to “Too Much

  1. GOTAN PROJECT. *swoon* I always go back to them.

    Wow – this is a interesting thought. I had just complained, a few days ago, about how some artists refuse to sell on iTunes because they don’t like that people can buy the albums in pieces, one at a time. They say that the songs were created together, to create an entire piece (the album), and buying single songs ruins their intended effect. I understand that, but I don’t. Or rather, I understand it, but I don’t like it. I’m pretty obsessive about making playlists, and I like to put songs together to create my OWN piece. And quite frankly, I rarely like or want every song in an album and I used to HATE having to spend $20 just to get ONE song.

    I think the attention span thing might just depend on the person. I feel like my iPod has given me so many more options – like the playlists, for example. Instead of only having 5 albums that remind me of a particular time, I have 30 very specific songs. I think people might focus more on the songs they do choose, because – like the whole album purchasing thing, you can choose EXACTLY what you want to hear (via playlist) instead of half listening to songs you got stuck with because you have an entire cd. Err… does that make sense?

    Oh, goodness… DM “Crash.” Don’t tell anyone I just admitted to listening to Crash over and over and over again! That album was the perfect background for several melodramatic entanglements. Still love The Sundays, though! And that very album!

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