Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Music Less Listened To

When was the last time you listened to a new band? When was the last time you experimented with your musical tastes? I have always striven to experiment and expand the horizons of what caresses my ears, but even I have been guilty of falling into the rut. Lately, the culprit has been the radio. Every station falls over each other in the effort to play the same mindless stuff, punctured by a portion of the few quality songs that waft around in the ionosphere. I have a huge collection of music, a big part of which was sourced by my ex-lead singer, and I don't even know or know of half of them. I believe that I must now dedicate a week for each band, listen to their music, read up on their history, learn about what makes the band tick, etc, etc. The only problem is that since my ex-lead singer prefers new-age punk rock, none of these new yet-to-be-discovered-by-me bands have a real rich tapestry of history to speak of. But that doesn't mean I can't give it a shot.

Why is it so much more difficult to try out a new band than to read a new author? Firstly, both have to be experienced alone, never with somebody. The magic is lost otherwise, or diluted at the very least. I think it is because we have pre-conceived notions and expectations while we slide that CD into the player, far more than when we peel back the jacket of a book. I think it is because that CD can affect you in the very first second, in the very first chord struck, in the very first cymbal crash. I don't recall a single book that has been able to assail my senses in the very first word. Right from the time I begin to peel back the plastic wrapping on the CD jacket, I always have this pit in my stomach, the hair on my arms is standing (commonly referred to as "goosebumps", I believe) and I'm so nervous with excitement and anticipation that my hands are almost trembling. This experience occurs only with the tangible music product, never with the digital format. Just feeling the inlay, looking at the artwork on the album cover, reading every tiny detail on that inlay, be it lyrics or the name of the producer, everything gives me a high. And then the music starts, after a couple of seconds of silence for dramatic effect as the CD player gets into position to deliver one of the greatest experiences of all time. As the music progresses, you get the feeling that you've made a good purchase, maybe even great, and you get elated, even ecstatic. And you dance. You could be jiving, maybe doing a tango, a little jig perhaps, or just head-banging with an air guitar or a set of air drums. They are all dances, private and personal, shared only between you and the music.

Eventually, time will take its toll and you will start getting used to the music, and years later, it can move into the arena of nostalgia. But those first few moments, when you laid eyes on the music for the very first time, when you felt its form and listened to what it had on its mind, those metaphysical surreal first few moments are what make buying CDs and discovering music a life-long addiction.
For reference, I suggest you experience the movies Almost Famous and High Fidelity as well as read the book of the latter written by Nick Hornby.

1 comment:

bodo said...

this has never happened to me. i can't buy a cd and discover it. i have to chance upon a song somewhere. inside a bar that i just happen to cross. on my colleagues speakers at work. as a background score in a movie. in a living room that contains the makings of a noisy party.
nevertheless, you're right. the magic happens in the first few minutes. you know then, whether the song is going to feature in the background score of your life or not.