You Know What Really Grinds My Gears?

I learned my first lesson with blogs, in that if I have a lot of ideas to write about, I probably should not shoot the entire load in one sitting and publish every blog at once...

Moving on.

Last week I was attempting to load two DVD-Rs worth of music onto my computer. Out of the forty-plus albums on it, I did five, before I had to stop. It was a pain mainly because my computer is pretty old, and still requires me to feed it those binary cards for instructions. I am hoping to get them uploaded this weekend, so I can start to enjoy them.

This got me thinking, though. Forty artists! If I am lucky I could move through one a day (if I really want to sit and consciously listen to each tune). That means it will take me six weeks to go through them all. I wonder: Is there such thing as too much music?

Today's technology is fantastic in that there are so many roads that lead us to music and exposure to artists: youtube, file sharing, ripping, burning,stealing actual purchasing of a CD, mp3s, etc. We can get so much music from so many sources that it blows the mind, and therein lies the problem: It can be overwhelming.

(Here comes the "Years ago..." part)

Years ago, when I was in college and high school, I had time to really explore music. Plop myself in the bedroom or living room, crank up the stereo, open a beer, and let the vibes flow over me. I'd go to friends' places and share music, make an entire evening of it. Even when I was single, if I wanted to spend my weekend playing PS2 and listening to the new Strokes album, I could do that. As is part of age, that's not so easy now. From 8-4:30, I work on the weekdays. I can listen to my iPod at times, but you can't really listen when you are doing work. After work, I help make dinner, catch up with the wife, work out, and find time to read a little. Now with a baby, there is even less time available. Throw in the fact that I love movies, and watch a 2-3 a week, there's not a lot of time to dedicate to music absorption. Unless I sacrifice one of my other hobbies (reading, working out, attempting to create my own music), there's not much I can do.

You know you're old when you actually have to SCHEDULE a time to listen to an album.

This may not be much of an issue if you only get a new album once a in a while, even once a week. Now, because there are so many avenues to acquire new tunes, you can drown in a sea of unopened files and jewel cases of bands that you had been meaning to get to, but haven't had the chance. It was a lot easier to get to music when you only had one type of media and one type of player. It was one less thing to have to keep up on, one less thing to buy or update.

The primary location that I listen to music now is the car- usually I am by myself, and I can listen and drive at the same time, so it's perfect! But... although I have a large amount of music in iTunes, I don't have the adaptor for my car, so I have to either stick with my current CDs or burn them from iTunes, which defeats the purpose of iTunes in the first place.

In addition to my own music scavenging, my music-crazy dad is acquiring albums of his own and sharing with another music-crazy friend. The upside is I receive a lot these albums, the downside is it just adds to my list of unheard groups. It's not the worst problem in the world, or even on my street or in my living room, but it certainly is frustrating when you are trying to stay hip with what's going on in the music world. If I was a paid critic, I'd be screwed.

The end result of all of this is that by trying to catch up on all of these albums, I am flying through them without being able to really enjoy them like I used to. The quantity affects the quality- the ability to really absorb, since you are trying just to get though them. It reminds me of when I was teaching, and would put off grading papers until the last day and just gave everyone B+s without absorbing the content (this only happened twice). Bands that I feel I will really like, such as Cut Copy, are given a once-over. Bands I love who put out new material, like We Are Scientists, are ignored until I can get through the new groups that have been on the table for months.

So the question is: Do you feel that technology today can give you too much music? Has there been some music that you listened to that you still don't think you've been able to really LISTEN to yet?



Anonymous said...

Chris, I couldn't agree with you more. This has gotten completely out of hand. Myself,
I'm "oldschool" in the fact that I still walk down to Love Garden or Kief's and actually by a CD. For me, it is a thrill to physically have it and to read liner notes. I have yet to (and will never) download an album. I just don't get it. Where is the fun in that? I do realize CD's will soon no longer be marketed and/or printed. I guess I better dust off the old record player and listen to music the way it was meant to huh? Keep up the good work.

Bang Potential said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bang Potential said...

I think a lot of people, I included, feel similarly overwhelmed. As long as you are ipoding during every second of downtime, and stop ipoding before you go crazy I think that's all you can expect from yourself.
We are at the mercy of critics and college bloggers who have all the time in the world to trim the herd for us.
Who would have ever thought that CDs would become irrelevant before vinyls?
In this age of torrenting I think our friend's job is now not to recommend a band but to tell us that we misjudged it and to listen to it again.
Sorry if this was all really obvious.

Matt said...

I completely agree. I get overwhelmed with the amount of music I am exposed to. I can't listen to everything I'd like to....and the stuff I might like won't necessarily get enough spins to really absorb it. The problem I run into with the large influx of media (specifically music) available at my fingertips is that if a band or album doesn't grab my attention at first listen, there is a good chance that album may only get one more spin before it's retired. That really makes the "slow burner" type records lose out.

To spring board of Mike's comment, I think the two are completely related. I still acquire 95% of my music legally. However, I do download most of it from pay sites. However, if I had at least one decent record store in the KC area (if you know of one that I don't, please let me know) I would probably purchase more actual albums. I like having the physical media in my hands when I listen to it, but right now that's not feasible. I think that when I did have that album and liner notes in my hands, it meant I would come back to that record over an over, if not just because I spent 15 bucks on it. I think the overexposure definitely makes the music more disposable.

Unknown said...

Not only do I not have enough time to hear all the stuff I (think) I want to hear, but I've been guilty more than once of giving an album a spin, thinking it was crap, and then ditching it... only to return weeks (or months) later, and think, "Wow, that's really great!" Seems like a lot of albums these days are "growers" and the qualities that I would come to love are not immediately apparent with just a listen or three. This happened to me just last week (Elbow's "new" album). Yeesh.

In the end I guess it's a good problem to have?? Too much music?!