How listening to music has changed.
The other day I was waiting in line to order my morning coffee at a café near work. I had my headphones on. I was listening to the new Childish Gambino album (which is amazing by the way). Just as I got to the counter, I pulled my headphones out of my ears and placed my order. An older man, probably in his fifties noticed the headphones and said “all you cool kids are always plugged into something these days.” I laughed and ended up having this wicked conversation with him about the way that people listened to music back in his day.
Back when he was a teenager, he bought vinyl records. He described it as being a tactile experience as he could actually open the wrapper, smell the sleeve, pull out the vinyl and feel the grooves. He spoke about the anticipation that would build as soon as he had bought the record. He would literally run home from the store to listen to it. And when he finally got home, he’d go to straight to his room, close the door, put the needle on the record, sit on his bed, and just LISTEN.
It was a moment of pure concentration. He’d watch the record spin round and round. He’d listen to the hum of the needle as it travelled through the grooves. He loved the occasional crackling sound. It felt romantic. Poetic. Real.
He’d play it from start to finish, carefully listening to every lyric that was sung and savouring each and every note that was played. It was deeply emotional. Almost like a drug, it took him to another world entirely.
After speaking to him, I walked away and thought about how much things have changed. I mean, I can’t even remember the last time I’d sat down and just LISTENED to an album from start the finish and really given the music the appreciation it deserved. For me, and probably millions of others in my generation, music is just something we listen to while we’re doing something else - Like driving, working out, reading, or cooking. It’s more of a distracted style of listening, whereby music is not ‘the event’, instead it’s an ‘enhancement’ to another event entirely.