Thursday, March 18, 2010

Nothing Not New

I was in Phoenix a few weeks ago, and I picked up a copy of their alternative weekly to read on the plane ride home.

I came across an article that completely engrossed me.

Jay Bennett, a 40-year-old copy editor, is currently conducting an experiment. As a self-proclaimed aficionado of popular music, he is devoting each day of 2010 to listening to a new album. Further, he is not allowing himself to listen to any of his previous collection.

This fascinates me, mostly because of the reason he is doing this:

Music editor Martin Cizmar called it "aesthetic atrophy" in this space a month or two ago, defining it as "a wasting away of the ability to appreciate new, different, or avant-garde music . . . An unavoidable consequence of aging, though the process can be slowed through therapeutic episodes of forced exposure to various stimuli."

That's me.

Up until my mid-to-late-twenties, I actively searched for new music. I bought and borrowed CDs constantly. I had my favorites, sure, but I still got excited for new releases. I loved putting down the windows and sliding a new CD into the dash, driving around just to listen. I loved being one of the people others asked when they wanted an opinion on an album, because they knew I had likely heard it.

Now? Not so much. How about you? Do you meet any of the following criteria?

How many of you have had the same damn 10 CDs in your car for the past month? How many of you have an iPod playlist of your favorite 200 songs that rarely gets updated? How many of you have a friend who has burned for you a CD by a new or lesser-known artist and said, "I think you'd really like this," (because your friends are supposed to understand you, right?) only for you to listen to three songs before you go back to that beat-up copy of your favorite CD from your senior year in college? How many of you pretty much stopped remaining current when you became immersed in your career or got married or had kids or simply found yourself with less time to devote to music?

Don't feel bad. It happens to everyone, and it will happen to you — if it already hasn't.

Check out the status of his experiments at Nothing Not New.


Justin Kendall said...

I fear the same thing is happening to me. But I do actively seek new stuff. I"m open to it, but I struggle to listen to a new album all the way through.

JJSKCK said...

I did look for new stuff for a few years, mostly in a futile attempt to stave off the "atrophy" he mentions. I could feel it happening, and would never have admitted it then. But I've tried really hard and very few things have stuck.

Unknown said...

I stopped looking for new stuff, when all the new stuff I heard sucked.

The DLC said...

That project would be a lot cooler if he posted a song or two that we could listen to.

Steaming bowl o' Calderone said...

So, you don't like anything that I gave you? Fine, give me back the flash drives and we'll try something else. This is what "The Finer Things" (or another less lame name) was supposed to accomplish - keep us open to new music, food, drink, et al.

Inky Neverwhere said...

My personal solution to musical atrophy: fuck pop, explore classical. Or jazz, world music, early country (circa Hank Williams Sr.)... whatever your flavor.

Alan! said...

A couple years ago, the legendary Village Voice critic Robert Christgau -- well into his 60s -- went to a show a night for three months.

His writing immediately became better. I met him last year at a conference, and at every spare moment he had his headphones on and was listening to Lady Gaga or whatever with the intesnity of a monk in prayer. He close-listens to a dozen albums/mixes/what-have-yous a week.

Am I crazy to believe that unless you do that you shouldn't deign to make a list of a year's ten "best" CDs?