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?
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
“Auf Wiedersehen” (live)
From Heaven Tonight, 1978
John Wesley Harding
“She’s a Piece of Work” (live)
From The Confessions of St. Ace, 2000