Listening back…

Great interview with Willard Jenkins over at A Blog Supreme.

“…I think baby boomers have to a great extent been products of arrested musical development; that is they have stayed with those more popular music genres — even to the point of being more invested in “oldies” of their development years than in current contemporary music — and have not grown in terms of their music sensibilities to embrace the more “serious” forms of music, i.e. jazz, classical, contemporary chamber music, opera, etc. Supposedly when we grow and develop we don’t for example continue to read books and publications that are geared more towards children or teens. So why not the same relationship with music?”

Obviously, it’s a little off their topic, but that question got me thinking…

As a person who is constantly seeking out new music in almost all genres, some of the most powerful music remains those records I heard in my formative years. I have a weird bond with them, and I think even people who don’t think of themselves as music appreciators do, too. I know every note of that album, every word, everything about them, what I was doing when I first heard it, and when the last time I listened to it. It’s almost as if, since the amount of music I had heard up to say 16 pails in comparison to how much I’ve heard now, an album stood on a superlative pillar of Nothing Like This Has Ever Been Done.

Like when I heard Kid A. My favorite Radiohead album hands down, and really the first of theirs that I REALLY got into. Most of my older friends say that record has nothing on OK Computer. And some of my younger friends say neither has anything on their newest. Not the best example since preference has a lot to do with it. But still, introductions to a band or album in those years are powerful. Just thinking now… American Beauty by the Dead — 7th grade mowing the lawn. Or Kind of Blue — 16 with headphones in my neighborhood library freaking out! So many vivid memories brought on by just hearing that first note.

I still get excited about new music. I work for a boss who delivers extremely exciting and inspirational albums to my doorstep every few months. And every year, I hear at least 30 albums that I think are 10-out-of-10. So I’m certainly not starved for content nor do I EVER hark back the days of old when music was “different.” But I have so much to compare everything to now. I understand a lot more about it. “Serious” music or not, I know that those albums have shaped what I listen to now (for better or worse), and that’s one reason why I continue to go back to them.

Not everyone wants to grow into new music. Some like to sit and listen to those records that changed them or simply to what they know. And this is present in jazz and other “serious” music today, too. But for those who continue to seek out new music in this new age of music consumption, it’s all right at our fingertips ready to be discovered by us and a new generation. And that feeling I got from those albums I heard in my formative years that I’m searching for to feel again will be felt by some other 16 year old.