Forgive me if I have approached this topic before (and I know that I have in a round about way), but I’m curious as to how much current stuff even really matters.

Here’s the place I find myself in at this point in time.  For many, many years, it was important to me to continue in a forward moving manner where music was concerned.  And I have done that.  In fact, there are many new additions to my interests that are important to me.  But when I move all the chess pieces around, I recognize that music of my youth was and is still the most important to me.

If I were to just screech to a grinding halt and stop actively searching for new music, I honestly believe that my musical life might become less complicated, and much less frustrating.

Searching for new music in an active way is consuming.  It requires a lot of listening, mostly to stuff that has no value at all.  When you add up all the acquired pieces you find that much of it does not even equate to the lowly pawn in a chess set.  And that’s not good.

As we age, the experience of music is supposed to be ultra rewarding.  We’re supposed to be able to continually surround ourselves with the stuff we grew up with and a fair mix of new.  But the methods that allow us the ability to find such things have been subverted.  Radio sucks (for the most part).  The usual fine magazines no longer exist.  It’s such a chore to find good, trusted websites that can point the way effortlessly.  And reading such sites take a bunch of valuable time away.  And all I can find to say is DAMN the radio stations for stealing a valuable media away from me.

What I desire most now, is to spend the time I have on loved music.  And there is a wealth of unexplored music from my youth that I can now pay attention to.  The good thing about that is that the music extends from a valued period.  There, my guarantees are greater, my rate of returns more satisfying.

Of course, I’d still keep my ears to the ground for new music.  But things like that kind of get in your face.  Just like back in the day.

My question to you today is simply this:  Do you even care much about today’s music?  Or does the music of the past hold the great key?  Would you rather just paddle in that part of the ocean that is most familiar to you?  Or do you like swimming everywhere?

By MARowe

22 thoughts on “Musically Soothing The Aging Soul”
  1. I’d like to write a relatively lengthy piece in response to this. It’s something you’ve brought up before and I’ve thought about quite a bit.

  2. Well, I’m 51 today and I absolutely understand what you’re talking about. I started buying records when I was 14, and the music I still love best is the music I grew up with, everything that was hip in 1975. I can’t listen to today’s radio. Simply can’t. Very few bands draw my attention these days. It’s always rewarding when you discover something that sounds good to you, but those moments are rare. My favourite time in rock history: late sixties-early seventies.

  3. There is nothing like the feeling of discovering a new band with a great album. Unfortunately there is a law of diminishing returns for me at this point in my life. I blame both the current status of the music industry (radio sucks, too many bands and a system that doesn’t always allow the cream to rise to the top, etc.) and my age. Most of the bands/artists that are getting airplay suck in my opinion.

    To get back to your question, it basically comes down to; do you want to spend more time with your old friends or snub your old friends in the hope of finding more new friends? I have definitely started leaning towards the spend more time with my old friends side of the coin. So many times I listen to something new that does absolutely nothing for me and realize I would have been happier if I had spent that time pulling out an old album that I haven’t heard for several years (or even one that I listen to at least once a year).

    I still read reviews and search for new music but I am definitely more selective about what I am willing to check out. I just don’t need anymore cds on my shelf that get listened to once or twice and then they fall into deep storage section of my collection.

  4. I agree with you. I just think the path to reflecting back to a personal musical sweet spot happens at different times for different people. I know people that never left the music of their past. For some it happens in mid-life. Personally I worked in a record shop (like the one in the movie High Fidelity) for 12 years during my late 30’s early 40’s. It was easy to sort through new music that was crap and what was good because we were selling it. Plus there was a competition of sorts between workers to come up with the best new music. Once I left the music store, I tried to keep up with new stuff, but it was to tedious on my own. I’m now in my late 50’s and I find myself going back to the music I love from the 70’s more and more.

  5. I’m 47, and I’m still listening to ’80s music. If I do listen to new music, it’s usually singer-songwriter, and almost always female.

  6. I am 60, and started listening to music (my Dad’s collection) when I was 5. And I have been listening and collecting ever since. So 55 years have gone by and I have heard most popular music styles, trends, etc. So what it comes down to for me is hearing something new or, and this is important, an artist that approaches older music with a new take on the original to keep it fresh. They say Rock music keeps reinventing itself, and unfortunately, that is REALLY true; but not in the way I want. If one more “new” band gets promoted for being the next big thing when you can dip into your collection and find something that sounds nearly EXACTLY the same one more time, I think I’ll give them a good slap. I laugh, for example, at so many groups that are into dance beat, and touted as so cool, when Disco did that just as poorly over 30 years ago. Most “indie” bands – man, do they not do their homework? Because most of the musicians are either untalented or are too afraid to branch out, they are stuck in the tomb of three chords, vocal angst and boring melodies – heading for the second hand shops for sure. They should check out The Cure or Comsat Angels!
    The good news is that I think there is a lot of exciting music out there that indeed BORROWS from the past but twists it in such a way that it sounds new, fresh and challenging. So-called Progressive Rock or Progressive Metal are great places to start. I am loving music again and exploring all kinds of stuff – while still collecting remastered discs of my favourites. But I agree with everyone else so far – current music featured above ground is, for the most part, dredge.

  7. Like most of the previous comments I too am long in the tooth (60 yo). I have been listening amp; buying music since junior high. I have found very little that is new amp; exciting. Most Indie bands all sound the same to me as does the American Idol winner types. When I do find a new artist/group that grabs my attention they usually have a strong connection to artists who populate my peer group (i.e. artists that are but a few years older than I am).
    I get most of my research done by reading magazines like Mojo or Uncut, internet sites like Allmusic, Expectingrain, Seconddisc amp; this site. Listening for new music is limited to XMSirius and Spotify.
    In my opinion the music industry has done a lot to make music boring. The bottom line for each quarter has led to pushing what is the lowest common denominator sound that will attract the most sales. I prefer a more eclectic approach to what I listen to. These days you can’t really find a Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, Procol Harum, Spirit etc. unless you just by luck and happenstance stumble across it. Thank goodness for the really small labels otherwise we would not have artists like Cat Powers, Alabama Shakes, Drive-By Truckers, Patterson Hood and the Detroit Cobras.
    Maybe that is why artists like Dylan, Springsteen, Willie Nelson, Leonard Cohen and Neil Young can still attract listeners of all ages to their shows.

  8. Depends on what you mean by ‘music from your youth’. I’m 46, and I listen to a little bit of music from my “youth”, by which I mean the time before I turned 20 – primarily Queen, Cheap Trick, Led Zeppelin, and Rush, however, a lot of music I listen to the most is from the last 10 or 15 years. The disc I just put together for my mp3 cd player in my truck included Bob Schneider, Cheap Trick, Florence and the Machine, Geddy Lee, Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, Stroke 9, and The Weakerthans. Other than Cheap Trick at Budokan, all of the disks were released in the past 10-15 years.

  9. IMHO, music reached its peak year in 1972 and I was born in 1974! The only “new” music that has really moved me is Ben Folds 5, Wilco and Jill Sobule.

  10. Just turned 61. I love music and I have rather eclectic taste. My most recent purchases are country artist Kathy Mattea’s new album, Brazilian jazz singer Luicana Souza’s new albums and a 40 year old set of the complete Beethoven piano concertos by Claude Frank. I don’t think most of the pop music today is very good, but who cares what I think. I am not the audience they are trying to reach. I’ve stopped worrying about it. I try to keep my eyes and ears open for new stuff that’s worth knowing and I try to keep at least a little awareness of the rest of today’s music just so I’m not completely lost at sea in today’s culture. However, there are only so many hours in a day and so many years left to my life and I will never live long enough to know all the music I want to know. Take those Beethoven sonatas. Sure I’ve been familiar with a few of those pieces, but most of them I’m hearing for the first time and I wish I was a talented enough writer to describe this thrilling experience. So I’m happy with my Beethoven and Stravinsky and Ella Fitzgerald and Joan Baez and Cowboy Junkies, etc, etc, etc., but even if I’m not actively searching for new stuff I hope I’m always open to it.

  11. I like swimming everywhere, but, I always find myself swimming back to where it is easy to stay afloat !

  12. I’m 52, I still browse iTunes on Saturday mornings and just begin with a band I like and then follow what others bought links and explore. I have a lot of problems with the production on new music. The loudness wars has ruined a lot of songs that I might have ended up liking. That gets to be a downer missing out on a good song due to brick walling. I still miss the days when I went to a record store and bought bands by cool covers, what was playing in the background or recommended something by a attentive salesclerk. But I still find one to three new songs a week. I still follow bands that I like and every once in awhile I find a new band that has made an entire album that stands out. I also spend about 30 percent of my listening time on older stuff from my youth.

  13. I’m 49 and I stopped listening to new music in 2002. In the late 90’s it became apparent that my favorite bands were putting out less and less, or had stopped completely. In 2008, Saga put out 10,000 days and it ended the music darkness temporarily. While the album was new, The formula stayed true to the 80’s. Which has led me to the realization that I’m old and becoming set in my ways. New albums by Devo and The Cars brightened the last 3 years for me (after a long long hiatus) But their formulas also were in the 80’s. I’m not telling you that you should hang up your hat, But there comes a time where the search for new good music needs to come from a newer generation, a generation who listened to the radio in the 90’s and 2000’s , Deciding what is and was worth listening to (in retrospect) Just as alot of us did in the 70’s. When I read your column, I search for band names that are in bold print, and the majority of the articles and announcements that I get excited by are the re-issues, remasters and box sets of 70’s and 80’s bands. I think you should spend the most time where the music means the most, In the 70’s and 80’s ..

  14. Like many of the above commenters, I’ve recently reached the half-century mark. I really don’t have the time or energy to seek out new musical acts on my own any more. I really need it curated for me — one internet radio station,, does a good job of this, while mixing in tasteful oldies as well.

    As for magazines, Rolling Stone is of no use anymore — trendy pop music and left-wing politics is all they’re about nowadays. Paste magazine is still a good source for finding out about new music. But more of my energy nowadays goes towards just finding the best version of all my favorite albums from days of yore — the best vinyl, the highest bit-rate digital files, etc.

  15. I find the vast majority of “today’s music” trite, boring and of little social value. I,too, am much more fond of exploring the music of my past that I overlooked, or at the time thought it to be inconsequential.

    Will there be a “Classic Thrash Metal” or “Classic Hip-Hop” radio station of any consequence in our future? I think (and hope) not…

    It grieves me even more that the great music mags of the past are no longer around, or are bastardized to the point of being unrecognizable (CREEM, Crawdaddy). I hve been a subscriber to Rolling Stone since the early 70’s (even have a copy of the initial issue…), and now I hardly recognize any of the “music” about which they speak.

  16. Sometimes, too, new music IS old music. In the mid nineties, I found myself realizing that, other than Who’s Next, I really hadn’t listened to anything by The Who other than the hits. Since them, I’ve acquired most of their catalog and most of it was completely new to me. My biggest problem is that I always find myself longing for ‘new’ music, so I am always listening to songs and samples on Itunes, Rdio, and Pandora. Got hooked on Rilo Kiley/Jenny Lewis thanks to Pandora.

    Something that I do miss is being able to go to listening stations in stores (Borders had great ones) and sampling things there, being able to hold the CD in my hand, scanning the song listing, looking at the cover art. Most kids nowadays won’t be able to have that visceral thrill of heading down to the store on release day to pick up that new CD.

    That’s another peeve, too. When the new Rush CD, Clockwork Angels, came out in June, I had to hit four stores before I found a copy of it!

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