A study was published recently that claims we lose the urge to listen to new music at the age of 33, (although as Ho pointed out, that should be 33 1/3) which was a bit of a shock to me, given that I’m nearly fifty and my desire to discover new, original and interesting things to listen to hasn’t dimmed in the slightest in the last 15 years or so.
It should come as no surprise to regular readers when I say that I’m an obsessive music fan and I see no reason why that should ever change.
No matter if it was rushing to buy the latest 7″ vinyl single from Crowborough’s Revolver Records, back when I was a teenager in Sussex, or trawling the CD racks of independent music shops and record fairs, reading music magazines and blogs, or scouring the internet for obscure gems to download, I’ve never lost what I like to think of as the John Peel spirit, the all-consuming passion for an art form that, almost by it’s very nature, never gets old.
Every generation has its naysayers of course, the “music isn’t like it was in the old days” brigade, because people are instinctively cautious of change. But that’s not an excuse to consign all new music to the cultural bargain bin, because if the change is bad, it won’t last.
And if it’s good, it’ll only get better.
I remember when acid house music first arrived, thinking it was a load of repetitive rubbish, (this, despite being a huge Kraftwerk fan at the time) but it didn’t take long before I found that there was good and bad in this genre, just as there is in any other and I embraced the change.
After all, many of the repetitive, trance-like rhythms used in modern dance music were prominent in the sort of zoned out space rock produced by Hawkwind and I had also been huge a fan of bleepy electronic ’80s music, another much maligned oeuvre in British pop, so it shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise that this new wave of electronic bedroom superstars would catch my imagination.
Same with Hip Hop, Drum ‘n’ Bass, Goth, Britpop, Punk, Techno, or any other media-created pigeonhole you care to name, once you listen to enough of anything you’ll realise there’s more to any genre than meets the ear first time round.
I don’t claim to like all music, just for the sake of even-handedness, (I never could get into opera or country and western) and I don’t even claim to be rational or fair in deciding what I do and don’t like, so I’m just like the rest of you in that respect.
We all think our own taste is faultless, of course.
But I do make a serious effort to listen to as much and as many different kinds of music as I possibly can.
At least until I’m sure I really don’t like something.
I mean, why wouldn’t you give yourself the chance to have more things in your life you can enjoy?
Why would you suddenly come to a decision one day and say to yourself “No, I’ve got enough new and interesting experiences in my life already, I think I’ll just go round in circles from now on.”
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of nostalgia.
We all fall back on the classics when we need the aural equivalent of a comforting hug from an old friend, but if you’re going to spend two thirds of your life stubbornly looking backwards, won’t the nostalgia, like familiarity, eventually only breed contempt?
It used to be a real treat to hear a slice of joyous eighties pop like a-ha‘s Take On Me, with its groundbreaking video and catchy synth hooks, or any number of earworms by one hit wonders (in the UK at least) such as Bran Van 3000‘s laid back summer groove, Drinking In L.A. or Breakfast At Tiffany’s by jangly also-rans Deep Blue Something, but nowadays, with the proliferation of internet radio stations whose record collections only seem to go up to the late nineties, we have reached nostalgia saturation point and the classic pop tunes of my teenage years are in danger of losing the ability to rekindle memories of my musical youth. (No pun intended)
But why any of that would stop people from seeking out new material is a complete mystery to me.
The study that claims we lose our musically adventurous nature in our early thirties uses the phrase “taste freeze” to explain the phenomenon, whatever that means, and also correlates the onset of parenthood with the downturn in our interest in checking out new releases.
You’d think that having additional young people playing modern music around the house would expose you to a greater variety of listening opportunities, but apparently not.
So, although I continue to plough through my CD collection in sequential order, an exercise which obviously leads me to play plenty of old familiar tracks, a great many of which can still give me one of those “Oh yeah, I haven’t heard this for years!” moments, which is of course only right and proper, it doesn’t stop me from my pursuit of my Next New Favourite Tune.
With this in mind, and to encourage any of you who are being dragged down by the terrifying scourge of taste freeze, here is a snapshot of the most recent leg of my musical search, via the last three albums I downloaded.
You never know, you might discover something you like…
Stay forever young.
Never stop searching out and listening to new music.
[Original blog-toon by Ho]