The Way the Music Died

I almost never listen to music any more. That’s a sad state of affairs for anyone, but strikes me as a nearly complete disconnect from my former self.

I’m an amateur musician.

I’ve played music since I was about 10 or so..I’m 45 now. First the trombone, then pipe organ lessons at age 12 (two things that failed to endear me to girls), piano, music theory in high school (including a good score on the AP exam), glee club, college choir. Not to mention electric bass beginning around 15 and continuing to this day. Years of playing rock and roll, blues, modern rock (covers and original songs) in bars and clubs.

I used to love listening.

At various times I’ve had decent CD collection, LPs, cassettes, thousands of digital files. I packed up CDs when I moved from Lewisburg to Buffalo. Merged the collection with my wife’s cooler and better collection. We packed it to Champaign-Urbana and then here to London. Ripped the entire thing to MP3, and then again at a better rate. Have consumed walkman, portable CD players, original iPods, iPhones and Android devices. Many of these devices still litter the bottoms of drawers and boxes in our house.

But where did the love go?

But in the last few years I’ve just nearly stopped listening to music. Why? I suppose there were practical reasons. Could not really blast The Pixies when a 2 year old was taking a nap. And I’ve taken on other hobbies, responsibilities, wasting time on FaceBook. And I’ve become a lover of silence and stillness.

But I miss…really miss… the pleasure of just listening to music.

What’s bothering me is that I don’t know what to listen to any more. Heck, I don’t even know what genre (s) of music I like anymore. I think it was the streaming that killed it for me. Streaming is the main way to listen. But just like the mp3 nearly killed CD and LP’s, Streaming has killed digital downloads. There is just so much content on streaming services. I have Google’s Play Unlimited, but we’ve used Grooveshark, Songza, and Spotify and a lot of YouTube.

So I never even know where to begin. Recorded music was once a distinct and quantifiable pleasure for me and now it seems like an infinite stream of background.

There is no investment in this for me. None. It’s always on. It never ends. The recommendations are either too familiar or too foreign. I feel like it’s a lifetime of trying and sampling and no room for commitment. When i do listen, I just around haphazardly. It feels empty. It’s killing my love of music because there is really nothing to love. I fully admit that some of this is my problem. I’m not using the streaming services the way I should. I’m not following people and listening to their recommendations and playlists.

I’m not ready to let it go.

So I’m trying to figure out how to get back into music listening, but that’s so hard to do. I bought a used turntable a few years ago, which is fun. But that means I need to build up my record collection. I’m considering a new/used CD player and starting to build that up again. But that has its downsides too: I don’t really want boxes of CDs taking up space. Perhaps I should just embrace a streaming service and just set aside time for real listening. Do others feel this way? Do you love streaming? Has it enhanced your music listening pleasure or has it detracted.

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