“Are people still passionate about music the way they used to be?”
My boss posed this question during a marketing meeting on Tuesday. There were five of us sitting around a table, eating lunch and discussing sales and marketing strategies for the company. This followed a rather heated debate over the significance of traditional retail stores in today’s online- and digital-centric marketplace. (As an aside, I have wondered how my company could continue to successfully thrive from the moment I set foot in the enormous warehouse on my first day and saw row upon row of CDs. I joke that this organization is living in an alternate universe circa 1998 or so. Aren’t CDs nearly extinct, after all? And we still rely on AIM for interoffice instant communication. I didn’t know that program still existed! Sometimes after work I feel like sending a page to Tara’s beeper letting her know I’ll be late because I’m stopping by Tower Records, and then kicking back at home and watching the latest episode of Seinfeld, but then I remember it’s actually 2012. Anyway, we’re still selling CDs, so something is working out right. Go figure).
Anyway, I had to restrain myself from jumping out of my chair and responding in the affirmative, because I’m new and don’t want to portray myself as being too excitable. Gotta maintain that cool professionalism, don’tcha know. But the answer to that query was screaming around inside my brain.
I’ve mentioned before my love of music, and how important it is to me. It’s one of the biggest interests that Tara and I have in common and, in fact, was crucial in bringing us together. Our second meeting – the one that ended up being the foundation for our entire relationship and changed the course of both of our futures – happened because of our mutual love for music (we’d planned to attend a concert together). The first time I met her family, we were in town for a music festival. And once she moved in, the next two months were a whirlwind of live shows big and small, of amphitheaters and clubs and arenas. And there are plenty more concerts on tap. Next month is Music Fest Northwest. One of the biggest perks of my job is picking up free music; yesterday I came home with a vinyl copy of Jack Johnson’s “Brushfire Fairytales” that cost me nothing, and can’t wait to spin that disc on the ol’ Victrola. (OK, Crosley record player, but whatever). Even now I’m jamming to Pink Floyd while blogging. And it is impossible for me to get through a workday without a steady stream of Spotify playlists emanating from my speakers. Are people still passionate about music, my boss dares to wonder out loud? What a silly question, I think.
I mean, Tara and I can’t be the only ones, right?
Maybe we’re unusual. Perhaps today’s generation is more interested in video games and apps and movies. I don’t think either of my kids has ever purchased a record or CD in their life. Sure, they’ve downloaded songs from the internet, but that’s not the same. I was buying music when I was ten years old. Vinyl first, and then cassettes, followed by CDs. Now, with the welcome resurgence of LPs, it’s back to vinyl again. I remember discovering Elvis first, and then The Beatles. Religiously following Casey Kasem’s American Top 40, so obsessed that if we were going somewhere on a Sunday morning I’d bring along a portable radio so I wouldn’t miss out on the chart positions of every single song. I probably drove my parents batty, but I couldn’t help it: I wanted to know if Dexy’s Midnight Runners scored that elusive number one slot (they did; “Come On Eileen” was the song of the year in 1982) or whether The Dream Academy would ever have another hit after “Life In A Northern Town” (they did not – classic one-hit wonder band). I spent hours in Tower Records, combing through the bins for that perfect discovery. God, I miss that place.
That’s the beautiful thing about music: there is nothing more evocative in helping you to recall memories in your life. Hearing a song will often transport me back in time to a particular place and event. Bob Seger’s “Against The Wind” will always remind me of a warm summer night spent chasing fireflies and reflecting on the fleeting nature of youth. Cat Stevens and Paul Simon were the soundtrack for our road trips to New Jersey in the 70s. Miami Sound Machine’s “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You” was playing during graduation rehearsal. Nirvana’s anthem “Smells Like Teen Spirit” convinced me to trash all my crappy late-80s dance cassettes. “Freebird” played on the classic rock station when we drove Rusty home from the hospital the day after he was born, and when I visited Tara in Ely for the first time last September Sleigh Bells’ “Rill Rill” was playing on the stereo in her living room while I felt the first stirrings of love filling my heart. Every time I hear that song I think of those happy moments and I can’t help but smile.
See what I mean?
How can music not matter?
Is there a particular song that transports you back to a time and place in your life that would otherwise be long forgotten?