Guest Post: Music just isn’t that important these days…

Regular readers will know that I’m celebrating Another Kind Of Mind’s fifth birthday at the moment by hearing from a number of my favourite bloggers and tweeters. Today’s birthday guest post comes from Rick J Leach, who is the author of Turn Left At The Womble: How a 48 year old Dad survived his first time at Glastonbury and Totally Shuffled: A Year of Listening to Music on a Broken iPod. He also blogs about music over at Turn Left At The Womble and is ever interesting on Twitter. He’s chosen to write about a subject that is very close to this old music geek’s heart (in fact, I may well write a reply post to this at some point). What do you think? Do you agree with him? Feel free to comment…

Is it just me?

Am I getting too old?

Is there something (not) going on?

Music just doesn’t seem significant these days.

I am writing this from the perspective of a 50 year-old music fan and as someone for whom music has played (and still continues to play) a significant part in my life since I was probably 10 or 11 years old. I can’t imagine life without music. I can’t imagine not listening to any and all genres of music and not being excited about what may be coming up, just around the corner. (Although more of that in a bit).

I am also the parent of two children in their early twenties and I do find it curious that in general, their generation seem to be less interested in music per se than my generation. If they do have any passing interest in music, then their tastes seem to be inherently conservative as well.

This is notwithstanding the fact that generally there doesn’t seem to that much new music around that isn’t rehashing or reheating something from years ago, although I live in hope. I would just like to be able to hear something that provokes in me a reaction, even if it’s a reaction along the lines of “well, that’s just horrible.” A sweeping generalisation, I know, but there appears to be a whole lot of insipid stuff out there.

My generation must be one of the first where the children tell their parents to “turn that bloody racket down” and/or “it all sounds the same to me” etc.

Maybe I’ve just got it wrong and it’s not the case at all. Maybe my children and all their friends are not a true or representative sample. Maybe there are much better or interesting things for kids to get into these days; not just music. It just doesn’t seem that important any more.

Maybe that’s not a bad thing anyway; possibly we all placed too much importance on the merits of pop music, something that should be (or was intended to be) disposable in any event.
We listened to music, argued about music, collected records and spent too much time and money over something that is essentially ephemeral. Especially for my generation I think, that punk/post-punk generation, music was something to be seen as oppositional, not only to our elder and betters but to some of our peers; as well as being a (misguided) badge of pride.
I’m not saying this to be a grumpy old man-I don’t really need to write about music to prove that point – it’s just that it all seems a bit odd.

Maybe it’s because music is just too easy to get hold of these days. After all, we can all hear anything we’d like to at the simple click of a mouse. When you can get anything you want so readily, then its value becomes worthless and it’s impossible to discriminate between what is worthwhile and what isn’t. But that is possibly the whole point of popular music. I’m not quite sure.

Possibly my children’s generation have got it right and music actually isn’t that important or significant.

Possibly they all have better and more interesting things to do

I don’t believe that for one minute however.

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6 comments

  1. Naima Shahab

    Haha, last line… you’re right not to believe that kids these days have better things to do. I do listen to all types of music, but never thought about it like you say. But yes, there is hardly anything new. It IS all the same. But it’s not getting irrelevant. More people are taking it up seriously, than they did before? Isn’t that so?

    • trickygirl

      I don’t know about stats, but I think it’s become easier than ever to make music (and make good music) – anyone with a laptop and a bit of fairly basic software can do it these days. In some ways, you could argue that music has become more democratic in that respect.

      • Neil

        I agree with this view. It’s easy to listen to a new song by a major artist, sure, but at the same time there’s an almost overwhelming amount of music being created, recorded, and published. The result is that you can still get that feeling of discovery that can be so exciting when you come across something either by accident or through digging and trawling.

        • trickygirl

          Neil, I very much agree with you on that feeling of discovery. There is something wonderfully magical about finding something rare or special or long looked-for while crate digging. It’s that feeling of finally tracking down that elusive album or single, that ‘yes!’ moment…

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