How far outside your musical comfort zone do you travel?
It’s a good question, particularly when you think on how far you’ve come in your life. When we were young (and some of you still are, numerically), we were immersed in the music of our time. We listened to favored radio stations, we hung out at record stores, we experimented with new and emerging musical styles. We invented ourselves and then reinvented ourselves based on emerging talents and music.
More importantly, we ended up carrying those loves deep into our years as we aged. (I know, I know…sucky concept, time!) But many of us, as we gained more structure to our lives began to rely – heavily at first, and then loosely later – on the music that we took to heart at its most relevant stage for us.
Unfortunately, as we moved along, we listened less to new trends of music. And then, one day, for some strange reason or another, we actually stopped to reassess an old love of ours – listening to music – and found that it was unrecognizable. It no longer spoke our language. And so, because we didn’t want to abandon – again – our music loves, we dug those old favorites out, listened to them and found that we really do still find it important.
I’ll rope this back to the original question, “how far outside our musical comfort zone do we travel?”. As we regain our love of music, we start to allow for some new input. We find that we like a new band or two, so we stretch a bit. Some aren’t satisfied. They want that feeling of floating on new songs, moving to the next island of sound as we go, just as we did ‘back in the day’. Those people search a little further.
Nowadays, music is far more diverse than it ever was. There isn’t a genre or style of music that hasn’t been explored relentlessly. Sure, it’s played differently, sometimes without much in the way of instrumental achievement. But the gift of song-crafting is there. With so much music to choose from, and so many different, and completely accessible, ways to listen for it/to it, we can be on serious overload (which has its own dangers (and not for this article)).
Unless we’ve put music completely behind us, we now have an unprecedented ability to fill our lives with so much new music and favorite artists.
I know we’ve traveled a long way through this write-up to come to this question, but now that some of you are at a new point in your lives musically (or have been for a while), just how far outside your comfort zone (comfort zone meaning Prog fans listening only to new prog music, metal only with metal, etc) are you now willing to go?
Personally, I’ve been lucky to like a lot of different kinds of music, with a few exceptions. I know when I won’t be pleased, almost from the beginning minute of each song found on a new release. I’m pleased with the Internet as it has allowed me to sample many artists via YouTube, some sanctioned downloads (which are used quite more frequently these days as a marketing tool), and streaming services.
I’m wild. I like walking into swamps, and dark places to find solid ground that makes me comfortable. And so, I’m willing to go far, far outside my own comfort zone. More often than not, I’m not always happy with what I find. But I sure do love the travel and the hunt. I begin to accumulate a list of bands and artists that I really like. I start to follow them like I did some decades ago with other bands and artists. And I seem to find more relevance to my life again.
How far are you willing to go?