Posts Tagged ‘INXS’

Maybe it’s a sign of aging, but I find myself longing for music of the past more and more these days. I’ve never hidden the fact that the current state of music is deplorable compared to when I grew up. But this isn’t a post about that. It’s a post about trying to (rhetorically) figure out what truly connects a person to music, and if that changes over time, across generations and through individuals.

(Note: Everyone’s experience with music is different; I’m not trying to make all-encompassing blanket statements. These are just my observations over the years.)

When I was a kid, all my musical influences lay in the hands of my older family members. As such, it was all 80s rock – U2, INXS, Duran Duran, etc. At that time, cassette tapes were the only vehicle for music, and I still remember this INXS tape we had – 1987’s Kick album, loaded with classics like “Need You Tonight” and “Never Tear Us Apart.” I used to play that tape over and over and over again on my small pink tape player (that came with earbuds!) I would just lay on the ground, headphones in, and listen.

I continued on like this, album after album (including The Little Mermaid Soundtrack) until U2 essentially took over my entire world. I had this one U2 mixtape that I spent hours upon hours crafting, timing every track to perfection. I must’ve listened to it countless times over years and years. At the time, I had a shiny silver Sony Walkman that automatically switched the tape’s sides. I knew every single word to every single song on that tape – they were my first favourite band of all time, and felt like a part of me.

Adolescence is a time when one is easily influenced, inspired. We hang on to things that (we think) mean something to us. If we’re angry, we like loud music. If we like to dance, we pick dance music. Our minds are so malleable and spongey, we can absorb anything. During such a precious time, it’s also easy to just follow what your friends are doing, so you won’t feel left out. For me, it was a combination – my entire school listened to grunge in the 90s, therefore I did too. However, I also enjoyed the music, and felt some connection to it, because it became about learning about an entire genre, and all the bands involved.

But here’s what I’m trying to figure out: when I hear 90s music now, do I love it because of that previous connection to it, because of nostalgia? Is it attached to specific memories, or a more care-free time? Or do I truly think it’s better than a lot of the music of today? If I heard that same music now, what would I think? Would I enjoy it the same way, would it speak to me in the same way? Or was it just a right time, right place scenario? Let’s be real, grunge doesn’t exist anymore (in spite of some pitiful attempts at a comeback); it died a long time ago – is that why it has such a pull over me?

Same would go for those who are fans of 60s-70s music – maybe that attachment comes from the notion that there currently isn’t any music out there that resembles anything from back then. Maybe they feel like they experienced the birth and demise of a genre. Its evolution and inability to survive in the current world. Maybe they just miss it. In previous decades, music had so much more to say. Musicians used their voices to make statements.

Nowadays, the industry has gotten soft. No one (rather, not many) talk about anything real, which is why everything is so interchangeable and unrecognizable. It all kind of blurs together. For example, millennials all think Drake is the almighty – but will they still think that in 10 years? Or is it because they hear his songs at clubs and bars right now? In 10 year’s time though, will they still be going to clubs? Moreover, even if they did, would Drake still be playing over the speakers? Has the music scene just changed now?

These days, music can be heard anywhere and everywhere – which is great. But that also makes a lot of room for noise. I wonder if in this day and age, it’s possible to really connect to an artist, and still feel connected years later. If it is possible, I feel like it’ll still be different than how music was felt in the past; when you earned the ability to listen to a track over and over. You had to save up. You had to really want it, and if the album wasn’t all that good, you wouldn’t delete it or toss it, you’d make yourself listen because you invested in it. You would give it a real, solid chance.

Year after year, there’s so much turnover in tracks too, so many singles released, that it’s tough to really feel the impact of any of them, due to so much output volume. It seems as though Selena Gomez releases a track every week, so how does one even keep track? With programs like Spotify, essentially every single song you could ever want in life, can be found there. You don’t have to buy the album and only play it on your CD player, or if you’re lucky, in your car. You don’t have to commit to an artist.

You can download a track just as easily as you can delete it. No one has Walkmen/Discmen (RIP) anymore, so all music on-the-go comes from their phones. The flow of which can easily be interrupted by phone calls, txt msgs and taking photos. How are young people supposed to understand how to truly value music? People these days don’t get obsessed with albums; they get obsessed with songs. One track.

Don’t get me wrong, I use Spotify too – guilty as charged. It’s the easiest, fastest way to get a track I want when I want it. I don’t have invest so much time/energy in its acquisition. But here’s the thing: I kind of miss that process. I kind of miss getting to know the music, the artist. I kind of miss opening the plastic wrap around the CD. I kind of miss analyzing the album art, and flipping through the lyric books and footnotes. I kind of really miss that connection.

 

 

Music appeals to so many people in so many ways all over the world. We all have our reasons for listening to the music we do. Be it to be popular, to be part of something, to be able to dress a certain way (that’s you emo kids), to be closer to someone, to be farther away from someone, to be different, to stand out, to blend in.  But with so many genres out there how do we develop a taste in music? Why do we like the music we like? And does the music we like define who we are?                                                                                                                                                                                     My earliest memories of music come from when my brother used to bring home cassette tapes of whatever one hit wonder was on heavy rotation on the radio (ie Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer). Every once in a while though, thanks to the recommendations from my older cousins, he would bring home some good old classic 80s music (a la U2, Duran Druan, INXS). And so began my love affair with U2. As I got older and reached middle school, music started to become more prominent in developing one’s personality. Naturally, I was influenced by those around me. Although I consistently listened to U2 (and still do), beyond them, I found myself listening to whatever music was considered “cool” at the time. In my school it was early-mid 90s rock/grunge/alternative. Head banging made an appearance at every birthday party, as did flannel shirts, band t-shirts and mosh pits. My high school years were essentially the same music-wise and so many songs that I heard during those years would go on to become classics, at least to me.

Then came University, and all hell broke loose. Music started to become more a way of labeling people and putting them into categories; a way of separating the cool kids from the uncool kids. The people in the school I went to predominantly listened to hip-hop/r&b/rap, genres which I had very minimal exposure to. Going from a place where everyone listened to the music I did, to a place where no one did was eye-opening to say the least. I was often assaulted with the line “Oh. You listen to that kind of music”. What does that even mean? Does my taste in music in some way say something about me or how I should act or dress? Who knows. But it made me realize that a lot of the music I listen to appealed to me because of the sound, the lyrics and the way it made me feel. I know it sounds corny, but no other music at the time really had that effect on me. As such, I held on to “my” music even more; almost like a purposeful denial of what was popular and cool. I went from listening to music because it was “cool” to then listening to the same music even though it was “uncool”.

Then came my mid-late 20s where I started to expand my taste in music and listen to everything. And yes, I mean everything. I noticed that a lot of the music I was listening to was angry, or depressing. Not sure what that means exactly (maybe I’m an emo kid??), but my interpretation is music helps me express myself. I am not a very emotional person, and I rarely express how I’m feeling, not because I don’t want to, but because I don’t know how. Musicians seem to know what I’m feeling and say it way better than I ever could. And so I can relate and feel like someone understands. The Dixie Chicks have some of the most moving songs I’ve ever heard – sure it’s country, but does that matter? Does that mean I have to start showing up at hoedowns and rocking cowboy boots? I also have this unbelievable admiration for Eminem. Sure he’s a rapper (not a genre I tend to gravitate toward), but he’s an angry one and his rhymes are arguably some of the best out there. There’s nothing more satisfying to me than hearing someone else venting and getting loud, when that’s exactly all I want to do. Sometimes when I have a bad day, I throw on some Ben Harper or Damien Rice (uber depressing stuff), but they get those feelings out of me so I don’t feel that way anymore; it’s like instant therapy.

My taste in music first came from the people around me, then developed into something I wanted it to be. I still find it ridiculous (though I get that it’s human nature) how people are defined by what music they listen to, because everyone has their personal reasons. Sure every genre has its own subculture that surrounds it but just because one likes a certain type of music, it doesn’t mean they are that music. I’ve said before that having similar taste in music can bring people together, but that doesn’t mean dissimilar taste in music should pull people apart. So open yourselves up a little, try talking to an emo kid for a change. Music has not defined who I am, but has actually helped me find who I am. And in the end that’s what we’re all trying to do – so does it matter how we get there?