soundtrack du jour


"I know it's not the right thing/and I know it's not the good thing/but kinda I want to…"

I have been reflecting a lot on how different the experience of listening to music is now … music is everywhere for the taking, downloading, ingesting and moving on… you don’t absorb it, feel it, live it the way you used to. When I was a teenager, I would get a new album, and it would be my life for months… sometimes it would be weeks or months before I was able to afford a new album, so the entire album got mileage. Naturally favorites emerged and some songs were skipped as those favorites crystallized. But an album did, for some time, demand my full attention.

Although I think the "full-album treatment" continued for a few years after I got Nine Inch Nails's Pretty Hate Machine, that is the last time I remember being completely consumed by just one album. I got it in June of 1990 and remember clearly overdosing on it in the lead-up to seeing Depeche Mode (and Nitzer Ebb) in Portland (America's best city, where you can get married at Voodoo, the all-night doughnut place, or go to America's largest independent bookstore, Powell's,) that summer. I have difficulty listening to anything from Pretty Hate Machine without listening to the whole album — and now the whole album has been re-released. (Did I ever imagine being around for re-mastered 20th anniversary editions of albums from my youth?)

Now the style is a song here, a song there, an album here that I might play in total only once. I have hundreds of albums I have never listened to in their entirety. This is a moving away from meaning… fragmentation… splitting our attention to the point that we are no longer really feeling, seeing, experiencing the way we were meant to. The full experience is lost because we have short attention spans, impatience and are always looking for the next thing to stimulate us. (I see this pattern repeated in all aspects of life, especially interpersonal relationships, and it does nothing but sadden me.)

Weekend baking: All cookies without eggs!

4 thoughts on “soundtrack du jour

  1. lalamaus

    Oh Pretty Hate Machine, how you helped me express my horrible teenage angst in the form of rebellion to my parents!!! (accompanied by a requisite door slam and a volume of at least 14.) HAHA!I love it to this day….

  2. borg

    Full album listening sure is different than Spotify, but I feel that the record companies / artists destroyed that experience when they started squeezing 19 songs onto a CD just because it fit and sounds like a better deal. In reality they just added 10 songs that previously weren't considered release material :irked:

  3. zoso

    Agree on the "full-album treatment". I'm never sure what's a good balance between listening to a lot of different music, and listening to it well enough to enjoy it fully.On the other hand, it happens sometimes that I get obsessed with an album or artist, so I get something similar with some of them (my current musical obsession is the band "The Bird and the Bee")… but then again I rarely stop and listen to music, I'm always doing something else, so it's not the same :-(About the cooking, is it going to be vegan, or simply without eggs? 🙂 *curious*

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