I really don’t care about music anymore. I can’t point out the day it happened on a calendar, but somewhere along the line I just stopped getting excited about it. It’s just one more aspect of my life where I’m turning more and more into an “Area Man” from an Onion article (here’s another). It wasn’t always this way. Like everyone else, my teenage years were set to a specific soundtrack. Music was, if not the center of my universe, at least a massive object with an awesome gravitational pull that kept me coming back again and again. I listened to the radio for hours every day, turning my stereo on upon waking, listening in my car on the drive to school, and drifting off to sleep with the stereo playing on a timer. Music filled my car and was a near constant in my room – the two major loci of my teenage years. I actively sought out new bands and styles of music. I browsed through cd stores for hours at a time. I went to concerts. I listened to Biohazard and Pantera on my walkman before wrestling matches, and cranked up the Chris Isaak when it was time for love.
But somewhere, all that changed. Like every step in the inexorable slide to old age and lameness, it happened in incremental steps. Somewhere in the undergraduate years, my tastes began to crystallize. I went from an omnivorous consumer of multiple styles and genres into a more focused afficianado of “the rock music.” Despite ready exposure to a fairly awesome college radio station, my tastes started to narrow. I still looked for new bands and albums, but only within the rock genre.
Some time later, I noticed that I was no longer watching MTV or VH1 and that every time I turned on the radio I pushed the dial deep into the nether regions of the fm dial where NPR always lives. I don’t talk about music anymore. Gone are the drunken pontifications upon the deeper meanings of “Yellow Leadbetter” or the socio-economic implications of “The Ballad of Curtis Leow.” Looking back, I can’t remember the last time I bought new music. Oh, sure, I still pick up the new albums that come out from bands that I already know and like, but even that list is pretty scant. I don’t even have a stereo anymore, so all new albums have come from (perfectly legal) downloads. The albums I’ve acquired over the last year are:
The Meanest of Times by the Dropkick Murphys
Sam’s Town by the Killers
Chase this Light by Jimmy Eat World
Icky Thump by the White Stripes
New Maps of Hell by Bad Religion
Float from Flogging Molly
The Mix-Up by the Beastie Boys
Ghosts I-IV by Nine Inch Nails
No entries from bands that I’m not already a fan of. My heart has grown cold and my mind is closed. The urge to expose myself to anything new has withered and died alongside my desire (if not ability to do kegstands). I honestly cannot recall the last time I heard a new song that made me want to hear anything more from that artist. At best, I feel a passive appreciation that lasts only until the next song comes up on the bar sound system.
In short: I’m getting old. If my current 27 year old self were to have a conversation with my 17 year old self and told him that a day would come where he bought only eight albums over the course of a year (and they were all from bands that are at least 15 years old (with some at least 28 years)), it would seem ridiculous. 17 year old me would also be pretty pissed that we don’t have flying cars or hoverboards yet, but that is neither here nor there.
Two of them are instrumental, for Pete’s sake. They are background noise for when I’m reading or writing (the chief pursuits of a 1L) because they don’t distract me too much. I like all these albums, but not with the same fervor that used to have me wearing out new cds with constant pushes of the “repeat all tracks” button as I explored every new album from multiple angles. Today, I just play them while I’m doing the dishes or something else that seems like it would benefit from a soundtrack. I don’t even use my portable mp3 player anymore, as I apparently prefer the sounds of weights clanking and people grunting over whatever the gym happens to play than to listen to my own music.
The reason I know I’m getting old is because I’m not really bothered by progression (at least not enough to try to reverse it). Beyond some wistful curiosity, I’m perfectly content with this lame state of affairs. If I never listen to another new song for the rest of my life, I don’t think I’ll be overly troubled by it. And the day when I yell “Keep it down!” to the neighbors is surely on my horizon. It won’t be too long before I just prefer the silence. Am I alone in this?