The Way We Listen Now

Okay, read this: The Decade in Music: The Way We Listen Now, from NPR’s “All Things Considered.”

I know what Sasha Frere-Jones means when he says, “There are days where I don’t know what to do.”

The limitless exposure to new music offered by the Internet is staggering, can be paralyzing, painfully overwhelming. It's as if we can have anything we want. And, of course, we want it all. The decline of physical media has changed our relationship with music. As Maura Johnston says, we no longer struggle to find space for it all; we now struggle to make time.

But, God, there just isn't enough time to devour all of it. And, so, I want to give up: To hell with all of these bands, all of these sounds, all of these cultures, all of this magic and shit. It’s far too much. So much music goes through my head each day, I can barely remember what I’ve heard.

I fight this, of course. I write about music, in part, to remember. At home, I can’t listen to music anymore without taking notes.

As Other Music’s Josh Madell says, people know a lot more about music, in general, but our connections to the artists aren’t as deep.

I would like to avoid this, change this, somehow. This is an extremely important time for music, but I don’t know what it’ll lead to. Madell is right, again, though: The Internet fuels the obsession for those of us who still buy music. It’s a vicious and wonderful cycle: I walk into Other Music to buy one record, but leave with ten. While shopping, I notice at least five others that, at least, look like something I’d enjoy. I go home, find those artists on the internet, listen, and return to Other Music on the following day. I walk into Other Music to buy five records, but leave with ten. While shopping…

For Christmas, I think I’ll take my teenage sister along with me to Other Music, and ask her to pick out some records. Anything she wants.

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Comments
Al Marcy's picture

Remembering what you heard is not important. Learning what you enjoy about listening is great fun :) Magic and shit happen,but, you sort of have to be there, somehow ;) Don't worry, it may never become all that clear, but, it will be really interesting...

Scott Atkinson's picture

Yes. Exactly. I know what you're talking about when you write "The Internet fuels the obsession for those of us who still buy music. It's a vicious and wonderful cycle: I walk into Other Music to buy one record, but leave with ten. While shopping, I notice at least five others that, at least, look like something I’d enjoy." I drift, for want of a better word. Because I was listening to the Who's early r & b stuff, I started reading Robert Palmer's "Blues & Chaos," which got me thinking about what English bands taught American bands, which fit with a remark Tom Petty made in a new interview, which led me to the new Tom Petty live set's cover songs, so I started thinking about older music, which led me to one of the new Chess Bo Diddley sets which linked to the exhaustive five cd Little Walter set. And it all seems of a piece to me, like I'm getting glimpses of a greater whole. That's why I keep listening - I'm trolling for patterns.

RGibran's picture

I'd start lookin' for another gig.

thad6000's picture

Stephen- you articulated my thoughts exactly. before the inturdnet was in full force, i still felt overwhelmed just from the music i bought. now, no human brain can keep up with it all. its a sort of 'be careful what you ask for' type thing. sometimes it makes me feel like a kid in a candy store who doesn't really want candy anymore. keeping up with all the new music ultimately can lead to one chasing their own tail. thank God for old jazz records....

Jason's picture

There is more music available today than in the entire history of recorded music. all we need to do now is to resolve the disconnect between the vast amount of music and the generally declining interest shown in high-fidelity playback equipment.

Live in Stereo's picture

We live in extraordinary times ladies and gentlemen. The more accessible new and old music becomes, the better the opportunity will exist to increase awareness of a better listening experience through high end audio.

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