A few weeks ago I was talking with a friend about music. He was lamenting on how much of his love of music was tied to nostalgia and that as he aged music didn’t seem to have the same sort of magic him. Perhaps, he thought, all those big, dramatic, soundtrackable moments were behind him.
But, I countered, you can’t say that right now while you’re in it. You have no idea what song will make you feel nostalgic or conjure up a memory of this year while you’re still in the midst of the experience.
Then we went on to talk about The Shins and became very nostalgic for 2003.
But before all that, what had started the whole conversation was me whining about how boring rock & roll had become. How it’s all samey and boring and nothing exciting has come out of rock & roll in the past few years, and the only album worth raving about this year was Wild Flag’s Wild Flag (which you can get for $5 for on Amazon right and if you don’t then you are a fool who hates everything that is good in the world). This soliloquy was punctuated with a lot of farty noises and cries of “it’s so boring!”
My friend placated me with the whole nostalgia thing and then gently suggested perhaps it’s me and not rock & roll, which allowed me to shout my newest excuse for everything, “I’M PRACTICALLY FORTY!” (which I have discovered if I’m going to keep typing about that I better learn to spell forty right the first time).
The whole conversation left me a little melancholy, and, for what is probably not going to be the last time before I turn forty, I thought perhaps I was dead inside. Once again I was sure I had lost the capacity to be moved and transformed by new music. Maybe all my music listening from now on would be of the nostalgic ‘because this is what I’ve loved before’ variety. Maybe I’d become one of those people I hate who can only rave about albums that were 15 years old, released back in my glory days.
But then, and you knew this was coming, then iTunes shuffled onto “King of Spain” by The Tallest Man on Earth and my heart soared and burst into a thousand glittery pieces of joy. I love The Tallest Man on Earth. I love his music not because it makes me nostalgic for a certain time or place or person, I love it because it sounds good to me and makes me happy. I can’t explain it any better than that. And now I think I love it more than before because it reminds me that I am still capable of loving freely without the need to place past personal significance on the music*.
So once again I get to stand by my ill-conceived and not totally thought-out assertion that it is, in fact, rock & roll that has gotten boring and not me at all.
*yeah, I realize that sentence is kind of contradictory but go with it, okay?