When I was a teenager and young adult, music was paramount in my life (as it seems to be with most people). This occurred in the 1980’s, an interesting and exciting period musically, in my opinion, because anything went. In the early part of the decade, punk and new wave were dismantling ideas about what music should sound like. Sure, the stuff that came out then could be cheesy, weird, or hokey (Rock Me Amadeus, anyone?); but it was always fun, and some truly cool music emerged from this time that became the soundtrack of my life.
I remember putting the headphones on and listening to The Cure’s Disintegration album over and over. Robert Smith was my bizarre, dark muse during my lonely, painful transition to adulthood.
I remember going to the movie theater and watching U2’s Rattle and Hum again and again. Their rock anthems, and Bono’s passion, spoke to me, as they still do today 25 years later.
Many other bands and performers of that time burned themselves into my musical psyche (caused by endless hours of watching MTV), but something happened, or a confluence of somethings, that caused me to abandon my reliance on and devotion to music.
First, grunge music made its appearance in the early ’90’s. Everything changed with the advent of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, et al from the Seattle scene. I didn’t understand it or like it. I felt alienated, and lamented “Music just isn’t the same, anymore.”
Second, books and writing came to the forefront of my life. I was more interested in exploring the classics, women’s fiction, and fantasy, as well as writing my own stories, than keeping up with any new music out there, music that I didn’t think I liked anyway.
Third, I fell in love and got married. I don’t know how it is with you, but when I’m in love and blissfully happy, I don’t need that musical outlet for angst. I thought maybe I’d grown up and grown out of my obsession for music. Oh, I continued to listen to my old CD’s of The Cure, Depeche Mode, Fleetwood Mac, U2, an assortment of movie soundtracks (The Lord of the Rings–I know, geekville), and classical music now and then on my trusty CD Walkman. I was turning into an musical dinosaur, and I didn’t care. At least a decade of my life went by when I listened to no new music whatsoever. I lamented the dearth of good music. But what did I know? I wasn’t listening.
Two things changed that:
One day more than a decade ago, I was browsing around a video store (remember those?) and a music video was playing on one of their monitors. It was Coldplay’s “Speed of Sound.” My ears perked up, and for the first time in a long time, I listened. And I loved it.
Slowly, I started listening again, and exploring what was out there. The second thing that helped that along was digital music, on internet radio stations like Pandora and Spotify. I could tune in while on my computer at work, and find bands I never would have discovered without it. Bands like Keane, Snow Patrol, The Killers, Arcade Fire. I adore Empire of the Sun. I love them all, and I’m sure there’s plenty more out there I’d like that I haven’t even come across yet.
I still listen to and love the oldies, but there’s room in my heart for its younger siblings. I don’t have the same fervor as I did when I was young; that time has come and gone and will never come again. But I’ve found the joy in discovering music again.