May 2, 2010

I Guess it was Inevitable....

I came to a realization this morning.  It's not revelatory, nor really that important, but kind of surprising....

I just don't care about new music anymore.

Now, if any of you reading this knew me from about the age of ten on, you'd be surprised by this.  Starting in the Summer of '79, I started becoming very interested in popular music, mainly Top 40 but also anything from the 60s and 70s (which at the time weren't considered "oldies" yet).

And when I discovered it, I went all in.  It became a personal quest to memorize every song on the radio, even if I didn't like it.  I also figured that if I was to have an opinion of a song one way or another, it was my duty to know everything about it - who sang it, when it charted, what I was wearing when I first heard it (sorry, family joke there).  My poor sister - I used to quiz her about classic rock songs and if she didn't know who sang a particular song, her pat answer became "Blue Oyster Cult".  She still uses it to this day.

I used to LOVE to discuss music with anyone who'd listen.  I have two brothers who are quite a bit older than I (they're 14 and 18 years older, to be exact) and they were always astonished that I knew "their" music.  My uncles (who, coincidentally, are the same ages as my brothers) were also fascinated by my almost encyclopedic knowledge of any group out there, but mainly The Beatles.  I became the go-to person for the question, "Who sings that song....." (this was pre-Internet, mind you).

There were periods in time that I sort of "dropped out" - one of those times was the early 90s, when Grunge became the rage.  At the time I hated it, probably because I was "supposed" to like it.  If there's anything I can't stand, it's being told by "them" what I should be listening to (and yes, I realize that every time I listen to the radio, that's what's happening; I'm talking more of a trend thing).  So I just kept with my old standbys like Jethro Tull and Emerson, Lake & Palmer and, of course, The Beatles and Led Zeppelin.  I realize now that I missed out on some great music, but that's what iTunes is for.  And even then, I eventually got back into a radio-listening routine.

I still love Top 40.  I like to know what "the kids" are listening to.  I like that I can connect with my Tween nieces and "their" music (and I know a lot of the lyrics!).   The difference now is, with very few exceptions, I'm not purchasing any of it.  It used to be that when I heard a song I liked, I'd rush out and buy the CD.  Maybe iTunes has changed all of that, too.  If I can buy the single for $1.29, why commit to the whole album?  In a way, I'm reverting back to my 10 year-old self, when I saved up my allowance for 45s (irony alert:  The singles I purchase today are actually CHEAPER than they were in 1979.  What an age we live in!). 

So if I still love Top 40, what do I mean by "new" music?  I guess it's the music I'm "supposed" to be listening to right now - the songs that my digital music channels, my hipster friends, the cool ads on TV, NPR, or anyone else "in the know" are telling me I should like.  Bands like She & Him, Vampire Weekend, MGMT, Pomplamoose, etc. that are so hot currently.  Try as I might, I just can't get interested.  I don't know if it's their blase attitude or what - I'm bored.  Or maybe I'm just too tired to try and absorb it all. (NOTE:  one fantastic thing about these new bands is that they're embracing art & design like never before, and incorporating it into their own branding.  I LOVE that).

At least with the whole Grunge thing, I adopted the look - maybe that made me a poseur, but what's more comfortable than Doc Martens and baggy flannel shirts with ripped jeans?  That was a look I could get behind.  Now it's all cute sundresses with cowboy boots - I'm 41 and wear clothes from Kohl's.  I'm not about to start looking like I'm trying too hard.

Maybe this is another phase - maybe, in 2022, I'll start listening to The Hold Steady and think, "Why didn't I give this a try when it came out?".  But I don't know; something's different this time.  Is this it?  Is this the point where I start to say, "In my day, we had GOOD music!"?  Dear God, I hope not.  But secretly, maybe it's how I feel.  Only time will tell.

*Photo of Vampire Weekend from Breaking the Midnight*


  1. I totally relate. Actually, I spent the entire 80s avoiding the radio. So much so, I was quite (pleasanlty) surprised whenever I heard an MJ song. But I must say that on the few occasions when I do listen to something new, I am often pleasantly surprised and I even promise myself I am going to start listening to more new music. I never seem to get around to it though. We have such great stuff from the 70s and sooo much of it!
    Have you seen "Across the Universe?" Now that's a great film to watch if you want to have your cake and eat it too!

  2. Thanks for writing, Sherrie! To answer your question - a resounding YES to "Across the Universe". I thought it was a really imaginative look at the Beatles' music.

    I will say that there are a couple of bands out there right now to whom I've given a second listen - Kings of Leon, Death Cab for Cutie and the Raconteurs (not that new, I know). So maybe all hope isn't lost after all. :D

  3. I've never heard of those bands... so I guess I'm with you, to some extent! I heard an NPR article about how people stay with the music they heard in high school because of the connotations with the "best time of your life" thing. I'm not too sure about that, myself. I don't actually spend much money on music any more at all, or listen to it except for when I'm in the car.

  4. and guilty pleasure sort of confession: what I listen to in the car is usually a hard rock/heavy metal station!! It's actually much more musical (some of it, anyway) than I ever thought it was.

  5. I definitely don't stay with the music that was popular when I was in high school - I graduated in '86 and the music pretty much sucked back then (and I REALLY didn't like high school AT ALL!). :D I do like a lot of 70s - Steely Dan is my fave band EVER, I think - but I'm also getting more into 60s West Coast jazz, like Dave Brubeck, etc.
    I worked at Musicland when the hair bands/heavy metal was at its pinnacle! Good times, good times..... :D