The following comes from the blog Transcribed in Audio:
I’ve been thinking a lot about how I listen to music. My technique has dramatically changed over the course of my young life. As a little kid I would just listen to what was on the radio stations and cassettes and CDs my parents listened to. Journey, Simon & Garfunkel, Country, and Classic Rock were what I “enjoyed”. None of this really influenced my current musical tastes too much (I still collect Rush and Journey Vinyls however).
Then came the middle school years. My music listening became a little more advanced with the introduction of a 10th birthday gift. A portable cd player (one of many I would go through). My cd collection consisted of “Weird Al” Yankovic, Journey, Jimmy Buffet, and Chicago. However, after a few years and a few players later, I came across one with a built in FM tuner. With this came the natural middle school “rap phase”.
Now here is the thing, my mother was quite protective of my little ears and I. So listening to rap music was absolutly forbidden. Her rules gave me all the more reason to listen, right? So, I sat huddled in my closet listening to radio edited Ludacris and Jay-Z. I Stashed my friends edited Eminem discs under the shelves of my room. They were good times…
As time passed, so did my rap phase. 7th and 8th grade year I really started listening to Fall Out Boy more heavily than before, I picked up a few Rammstein and Creed cds (I know, I know), and Pop Punk became a staple in my library. All Time Low became a favorite of mine and I still consider them major influences on my musical taste today.
As the first bell rang on my first day of high school, I finished up a Chiodos tune, pulled out my head phones, and went to class. Lunch time came. I chatted with my friends who didn’t listen to the music I did. This was before All Time Low got “popular” and before Cobra Starship got radio play. The most pop punk the kids in lunch C ever listened to was a radio replay of Yellowcard’s “Ocean Avenue” or All American Reject’s latest single. But I coped by finding separate interests I shared with these teens. Finally the bell rings, signaling my escape from the poorly lit hallways of musical conformity.
The bus rides of my early high school years were a major getaway for me musically. I would turn on something by Craig Owens, Cartel, Bayside, Panic!, or Anberlin and slip away until my sister kicked my seat to bring me back to reality and the long walk down the bus aisle to my driveway.
At this point, I began developing a new method of musical indulgence. Rather than listening to a few songs by groups or artists across a career, genre, or playlist, I just listened to entire records from beginning to end. I found that in the end, I was always more satisfied with a session of music listening this way. Now, that I ponder over it, I can relate this method to one reading a book. The reader begins at Chapter 1 and ends at the back cover. This is exactly how I feel a record should be listened to. From track 1 to the end of playback. You don’t just pick up The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and skip to Chapter 7. Do you? I find that I can find more meaning in the lyrics and music by listening from start to finish. I can see the story the artists are weaving.
Furthermore, I have always been a fan of a good discography. To further illustrate my point, I will return to my LOTR example. Would it be best for a reader to start at The Return of The King or The Fellowship of the Ring? Any book reader would suggest The Hobbit first. Nevertheless, I think it is important to see where a band has come from to take notice of progression along a career. Too often these days, I see kids bobbing their heads to, say, the new VersaEmerge album Fixed at Zero, but when I ask them more about the band, they can’t tell me a thing. All they know about them is what is on that CD. Its sad, because VE has had great songs on previous albums, especially with their former lead vocalist (Spencer Pearson – Decoder). I constantly wonder, how can a kid say a band is their favorite when they don’t even know the lead singer’s first name? Yet, that same kid will be sporting a hot topic t-shirt the next day in the halls, claiming to be alternative and deeply connected to the music they listen to.
Its sad. Most kids just download the music, listen a few times and begin to complain on the forums. “When is the next record?” “are you writing new music yet?” It could be 3 weeks after a record is released, but there are some that don’t care. They endlessly need more. Our generation has an insatiable appetite for the fast and immediate. Artists are working to the breaking point to stay relevant. The artist has become an entertainer.
What I’m trying to say here is that music is something that needs to be appreciated. Support your favorite artists. Not only financially, but emotionally as well. What I think people fail to realize is that band members aren’t celebrities untouched by we “normal people”. They aren’t pampered and abundant in wealth. They are struggling, more so than many in working class America. The struggle isn’t only financial, it’s also a struggle within themselves. Lots of artists are questioning whether or not they want to continue their line of work anymore. Is it worth it? Am I producing something that will not only provide for my costs of living but that will affect others in a positive way? These are questions your favorite bands are pondering after every show.
We forget what music has always been about. Expression, emotion, and healing through beats, tempo, and melody. So next time you’re at your local record shop or browsing iTunes, pick up a CD, and listen to it all the way through. Not once, but several times. Don’t forget about it. Don’t stick it on a shelf and forget about it. Pull it out a few months down the road and enjoy it again. Who knows, maybe a pleasant memory will attach itself to a song and will take you back to a happier time. Music isn’t just data on your hard drive, its an element in itself, made up of emotion, memory, and wisdom all flowing through out earbuds and into our subconscious.
So take it for what it’s worth. Appreciate the compositions for the purpose the artists set. Support your favorites, and always start at the beginning and finish at the end.