Losing touch with musical roots

Mark LaVoie

Music is disposable to me now. This revelation came to me after I realized that I wait on certain artists to release albums, but I don’t look for new artists to stock my CD rack with anymore. At the risk of sounding old, ten years ago I cared about my musical opinion. I had band stickers on the back window of my car, I listened to “my” music loud enough that people in cars two lanes over from me could pick out every word Tim Armstrong slurred through my speakers and I complained about the lack of music on MTV.

But not anymore. Gone are the days when my standard response to the question, “What kind of music do you like?” was “I like “X” kind of music, “X” band, anything but “X” kind of music. I hate that crap.” Actually that answer isn’t too bad, with the exception of the last part that only serves as an exclamation point to the first half of the answer. It doesn’t add to the answer in a positive way. I don’t have a good answer anymore. I can’t even fall back on the, “Oh, I like all kinds of music” mantra, because I don’t like all music and I feel that is a “safe” answer; with it you commit to nothing.

I like growing older because I find myself enjoying more kinds of music now. When someone limits themselves to a genre or two of music they eventually get bored with always listening to punk, rap, polka or whatever. When I found myself starting to enjoy classical music, or even country music that wasn’t Cash or Nelson, I had to reconcile with myself. I consciously decided that it was okay to like something new, but it was hard because I felt I was giving up on my “roots.”

In the past music meant something to me, it had a relevance. Now I just enjoy the music of my younger years for the memories it contains. Music I am discovering now I enjoy for the aesthetics. Rarely do I feel compelled to purchase a new CD because music is no longer what I store my memories in. I store them in my surroundings and the people in my life. I still love music, and I appreciate it more now that I have a few years of perspective to listen to it with, but I no longer place its significance on high. Music is now good in the moment to me, but does not occupy the permanent place of importance to me it once did.

Though I am far from forty, I find relevance in a quote from Robert Louis Stevenson: To hold the same views at forty as we held at twenty is to have been stupefied for a score of years, and take rank, not as a prophet, but as an untouchable brat, well birched and none the wiser.