I was driving my car the other day when a new song came on the radio. The beat and the lyrics immediately irked me, and I changed the station. The thought crossed my mind that my generation made the last good music. I almost slammed on my brakes in horror that I have surpassed my youth and am staring down the barrel of griping about the latest fashion and beginning as Bill Hicks said, to worry about my lawn.
The revulsion I felt for the new song on the radio sparked me to investigate why adults in general despise new things. I began by listening to a few songs on the top one-hundred Billboard list. I was relieved to see the number-one hit I really like, but the further I went down the list I was more and more turned off.
It typically wasn’t the music that was the culprit, but the lyrics about falling in love, falling out of love, or wishing that love would find them. Ninety-nine percent of songs are about love in some form, and I have had enough life experience to know what it’s like to fall in love, break up, or feel lonely. I already have a go-to list of songs, which satisfy those feelings and provide me with a specific memory to relish or regret. New songs have little power to move me because they have to either excite an old memory or be a powerful song that I want to relate to a new experience.
When I experienced love for the first time it felt wonderful, and I was sure that no one had ever felt like I did. The songs at that time served to solidify that feeling. My parents would roll their eyes and groan when I would sing the latest angst filled song about how our love would never die. I knew in my heart, they just didn’t understand what good music was, and that I should be considerate because they grew up with lousy music.
Adults have already experienced high school relationship drama, and they know that teenage love lasts about as long as a commercial break. Hearing a song about how you met on the dance floor and now are going to love each other forever is laughable at best. Adults have also gone through break ups, they know at the time it hurts, but you still have to go to work, pay bills, and clean the house. A whiny new song about breaking up gets on my nerves quickly because I know there are plenty of people to meet when a relationship ends, and it’s complaining about something, which is easy to solve, especially if you only dated for a month.
There are a few randy songs from my past, which talk about one-night stands and how real women don’t need a man to complete their lives. I used to sing these songs with gusto and pride because I had no desire to be tied down. I saw relationships as the end to fun and the beginning of being a boring old fart.
When I heard that song in my car, which sounded awful to my ears, I realized it was a love song about two people hooking up without commitment. This disgusted me on a few levels, but I’m at the point in my life where I value longevity over a few moments of pleasure. I want to make sure that before I invest my precious time and energy in someone that they are worth it.
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I think I held out longer than most adults when I finally broke ties with modern music. After pondering why this is the case, I realized that I don’t have children who blare music all hours of the day, or who wail the most recent incarnation of a break up song. This allowed me to let the list of memories tied to music lengthen and grow because, face it, kids and teenagers are annoying. When you hear a song on the radio that your children like it will probably inspire you to feel irritated or ambivalent.
Creatures of habit
Humans are creatures of habit and when they like something, they listen, watch, or eat it repeatedly. It’s comforting to know that in a world which is constantly changing, there are things we as adults can always rely on. Schedules and lists become the norm as we age and spontaneity takes a back burner to the comfort of the ordinary.
I am incredibly guilty of doing the same routine over and over daily. I wake up at five in the morning, shower, eat breakfast, go to work for eight hours, come home, eat dinner and watch a movie or You Tube. If I forget to schedule the coffee pot to brew or my alarm doesn’t sound, I’m thrown off the whole day, and it makes it hard to maintain a good attitude. New music is like throwing a wrench into the works because it’s something unfamiliar that I have to determine whether or not I want to add it to my already nicely structured music schedule.
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As I glance over the stations, I have programmed into Pandora, I realize that every song I listen to is not a winner or has a message which inspires, but they still feel so unique from everything in my parent’s music. The lyrics are totally meaningful to me and evoke old emotions like a family video.
It would be easy to say that contemporary music is a thinly veiled copy of the music from my generation, the reality is there’s a life cycle, we all go through, and music tells the story of the current generation. I may not enjoy hearing their version of the ups and downs of life, but it is unique to them. I’ll just continue to exercise my right to change the channel when the music doesn’t agree with me.