And Now You’re Older Still

So, I successfully completed all 30 Days of Music. In a row, and on time. It was kind of weird.

What did I learn? I learned that the music that has stuck with me has a tendency to not be very diverse. If someone were to judge my probable music collection based on the songs mentioned on my list, they probably would not guess that I have much non-rock music, which I do, and they’d assume that I skew towards guitar bands from the ’90s and the first decade of the 21st century, which I also do.

The apparent lack of diversity? That’s a problem, one that apparently most people run into as they grow older. Their tastes tend to sort of solidify and they stop searching out the new.

When I was a teenager, and into my early 20s, I was very active in seeking out new music. As I’ve grown older, I’ve gotten a lot worse about it, even as the effort involved has decreased to almost nothing thanks to the internet.

That said, the real decline in my effort had a direct cause, as far as I can tell. Shortly after I moved to New York, I started tutoring a couple of teenagers, a sister and brother. Mostly, we’d sit and whichever one I was with would talk to me about her friends, her school, her life, and I’d do my best to teach her whatever it was she needed to learn. I mostly failed.

I got the job because I commented on the Strokes button hanging on the older sister’s bag. She decided I was cool enough to be seen with in public, and she hired me for $20 per hour. Before long I stopped having to look for music at all, because she’d make me mixes with whatever she was into that week and I’d weed out the good stuff from the crap.

When I started tutoring her brother as well, he did her one better. He’d give me CDs full of a few hundred mp3s, bands’ entire discographies for me to try and absorb.

Of course, it’s kind of fucking impossible to learn new music that way. I didn’t even try to listen to most of what he gave me, honestly. It was easy to ignore it, although I’m the first to admit that I missed out on some good stuff by not listening. For example, he’s the one that first put me on to the National, an excellent band that I only just this past week listened to for the first time, this despite owning their previous record since 2007.

I can only imagine there’s plenty of other good stuff that they showed me that I never gave the time of day, and that’s just the barest edge of all the good stuff that I either haven’t heard or haven’t paid enough attention. I stopped putting in the effort because I stopped having to, and then when I needed to start again, I couldn’t get it together to do so.

Ultimately, I think that’s the sad takeaway from my 30 Days of Music: I’ve stagnated in my consumption of the new, the different, and the exciting, at least as far as music is concerned.

I think I’m starting to get old. I don’t like it.

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