“I don’t keep up with new music anymore”
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“I don’t keep up with new music anymore”.
How many times have you heard your friends say that?
This phenomenon has bothered me for years. A good number of friends with whom I first bonded with through music don’t share that passion anymore. They always cite things like family, work, and time. But that doesn’t stop them from watching movies or TV. That makes sense. Watching movies or TV is often more passive than listening to music. Movies and TV come at you through your television set (and, increasingly, your computer screen). Outside of radio, one has to go to music. Music also doesn’t hand people visuals like movies and TV do.
Perhaps people simply lose the passion for music as they get older. Their temperaments mellow out, and they don’t need to show the world what music they listen to. (Interestingly, if my Facebook feed is any indication, younger folks show the world what they listen to; older folks show the world what they eat.) Even the most rebellious of teenagers turn into their parents. Aesthetic experiences no longer need to be life-changing; they need only be enjoyable. Music becomes background sound.
What interests me more, however, is the conscious choice to stop seeking new music. People draw lines in the sand: there’s no good music now, music was better when I was young, and so on. I don’t hear people saying, “I don’t want to travel to any more countries” or “I don’t want to try any more kinds of food”. But they’ll say that they are not interested in hearing new music. Why do people seek out new experiences as they age – except for music?
My overly simplistic guess is that people tie music deeply with their identities. As they age, new music is a threat from younger generations in a way that new movies or new TV shows don’t offer. They don’t like that the world has seemingly left them in the past. They are bitter that the the present does not include them.
The Onion’s AV Club has an article that does a much better job than I of addressing this “why”. It’s a conversation between two music journalists about the generation gap between music listeners. Here are two quotes:
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I firmly reject the notion that “maybe music really isn’t as good as it used to be.” To me, that’s like saying “food isn’t as good as it used to be.” Maybe it’s just your diet that needs work.
People like us split music into genres and eras, but in reality, music is a continuum, formed by a long chain of artists and songs that — if you choose to follow it — will take you deep into the past or carry you into the future. Listening to “old” and “new” music side by side, in the present tense, re-affirms this view. For me, when an artist echoes another artist from 20 years ago, I’m hearing traditions being revived and re-shaped, sometimes dramatically, other times more subtly. But it’s all part of a journey through music that’s incredibly rewarding if you don’t allow tastes you established in the 10th grade to hem you in.
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(Read the article here.)
I’ve had my share of “get off my lawn” moments – see here, for example. But the rational part of me sees that, like it or not, children are the future, and that more musicians than ever are releasing recordings. Statistically speaking, music cannot all suck worse than it did when you were a teenager. (Music production is another matter.) People test new ideas because they are naturally curious, and because they don’t want to breathe recycled cultural air. Those ideas may not be for you – but that doesn’t make them any less valid.
Recently I found myself facing down the future of metal, or at least a part of it. (See below.) I gave it a chance. I found that I didn’t like much of it for various reasons (slick production, annoying midrange screams/clean vocals, I’ve already heard Meshuggah). But I see that the kids are trying to push things forward. I’m glad for that. I recognize that at some point, they will fade into the future, and I’ll be hungrily seeking out jazz and classical records. They’ll be old records – but they’ll be new to me.
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A GLIMPSE OF THE FUTURE
This is a sampler for Basick Records. They spearhead the “djent” trend, but metalcore and deathcore run through their catalogue, and all those threads are inter-related, anyway. Hearing this was a glimpse of a future in which I probably will not partake, but whose existence has merit. Uneven Structure, 7 Horns 7 Eyes, and Chimp Spanner caught my ear.
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