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)