Losing My Religion?

12 Jun

I feel a little prick of shame every time a variant of this conversation happens…

My Friend to New Person: Oh, you should totally talk to Angie. She’s a music nut.
New Person to Me: Oh, cool! So, who should I be listening to right now?
Me: (stammering)

I’m teetering on the verge of a new age demographic, and I sometimes wonder if I’ve lost my edge as a music fan. This could be because my music fandom no longer brings with it the transforming, consuming devotion of years past. (Granted, anyone who’s watched my behavior at a Minibar concert may disagree with this thesis.) My 18-year-old self wouldn’t want to hang out with my current self the moment she realized I wasn’t talking about R.E.M. non-stop. Actually, make that my 17-25-year-old selves.Looking back, I’m half-astounded I managed to keep my grades up, maintain friendships, and get laid during my R.E.M.-obsessed years. I wouldn’t change those years if I had access to a WABAC machine, though, as they made me the sympathetic educated Democratic quasi-hippie you know today.

I still buy new R.E.M. records as soon as they’re released. Perhaps that’s also part of the problem. I certainly haven’t stopped consuming music – one look at the Seibold living room, groaning with CDs, proves that – but it takes a lot for a truly new band to break into the ranks. As I feel my CD collection should be a comprehensive one and not just merely a large one, a lot of my record shopping centers around the filling of perceived “holes” on the shelves. What’s playing right now as I type? Cheap Trick’s Heaven Tonight. Which I bought maybe a month ago. Other recent purchases include the New York Dolls, Cat Stevens, and the Jackson 5.

Even new discoveries are old artists. Joe Jackson ruled my world for a few weeks this year. I became briefly fixated on Nilsson after watching the documentary Who Is Harry Nilsson (and Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him)?After seeing John Wesley Harding (aka author Wesley Stace) at an L.A. Library event, I bought 5 of his CDs in rapid succession. Dude only played one song at the library.

OK, perhaps I am still pretty obsessive about this whole music thing. I mean, who the hell besides me buys physical CDs anymore? I thank the various gods that I married someone who consumes DVDs with the same urgency as I consume CDs. We really need a bigger apartment.

That said, the older I get, the more I realize that a key perception of music fans is that you are constantly the font of NEW music. I respectfully disagree. And not just because any time I attempt to talk about new music, I sound antiquated. If conversing with a bleeding-edge music fan about Florence and the Machine or Mumford and Sons or Lykke Li, I may as well throw in, “Hey, have you heard of this band called the Beatles?”.

What should you be listening to right now? Whatever brings you joy. If that’s some new group I’ve never heard of who played to 5 people at the Smell last Thursday, awesome. Maybe I should check them out. If your favorite bands are my favorite bands, awesome. We have a shorthand to friendship. If your favorite bands are bands I hate, that’s still awesome. Congratulations, you won’t be shaped by others’ badgering. And at least you ARE passionate about music.

So rock on, kids. Or rap on, or sway on, or whatever gets you through the night. Just keep listening.

Strength and peace, Angie

Three bands mentioned in today’s blog

R.E.M. “Discoverer”                                                                                                                                                                                  From Collapse Into Now, 2011


Cheap Trick
“Auf Wiedersehen” (live)
Heaven Tonight, 1978


John Wesley Harding
“She’s a Piece of Work” (live)
The Confessions of St. Ace, 2000



7 Responses to “Losing My Religion?”

  1. Chris 06/12/2011 at 3:18 PM #

    Great essay and I love the title of your blog! I’m in agreement that there’s no point in drawing a timeline in the sand about where music fandom should begin or end. Geeking out over music recorded 50+ years ago is just as much fun – and just as satisfying – as geeking out over the awesome band that practices in the garage down the street. Show me a person who is only interested in the latest bands no one else has ever heard of and I’ll show you a person who cares a bit too much about being perceived as cool. The adventure is so much more fun when music exploration is done without shackling yourself to one era or genre.

  2. WitneymanWitney 06/12/2011 at 3:54 PM #

    And off it goes. 🙂
    Live by your passions, and be sure to have passions. Always good to remember.

  3. jennotinsweden 06/12/2011 at 4:57 PM #

    Smart bit that hits home! Yes, musical enjoyment should not be a mass produced(idea that everyone should take the same route to enjoyment)one, or communism of tastes, whats in or not. I feel similarly about the older music/film, bergman film, everything thats not been produced this year, and what i’m listening to this second… enjoy what you feel like and what works for u, instead of looking to prescribe to a new drug. who should i be wearing? who should i be listening to, reading, whats good to watch lately? ur not buying stocks here unless u are 😀 lets not forget that music, all in all, is one area where you have complete freedom of choice. why would you want to relinquish that?

  4. Todd 06/12/2011 at 11:22 PM #

    Just please, PLEASE, don’t RAP on. That shit ain’t music.

  5. Alex 06/13/2011 at 11:38 AM #

    It’s cool. All that new Tween Wave sounds like crap anyway.

  6. John Cole 06/14/2011 at 2:07 AM #

    Can’t wait for you to go through your “progressive rock” phase…

  7. Jill 06/22/2011 at 11:37 PM #

    Love this article! But I’m still going to judge people for liking Nickelback. LOL! I’ll be swaying over in the corner;)

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