Music is the best thing on the planet. I say that with banal sincerity. I truly love music. Everyone with a soul enjoys music. But not everyone loves music – as in, enjoys it as an artistic discipline, a creative expression, a complex universe of influence and experimentation and human craft. Everyone loves songs, but not everyone loves music.
I love music. I love bands and rappers and back stories and commentaries and LPs and mixes and singles and shows. I love Wikipedia pages and books and blogs and magazines. I spend 80% of my day wearing headphones and 20% of my day wearing out speakers, and this includes sleep. I seek out new music from friends and the Internet and everything that exists within the weird vortex between the two. I may listen to the same song over and over again for a while, but I am a highly discerning curator of my listening experience.
On paper, the all-access, all-the-time digital age of music publishing seems tailor-made for someone who loves music. We have nothing but options – hypothetically, at any given time, I can be listening to exactly what I want to be listening to. This is, hypothetically, a privilege. I am hypothetically stoked.
And yet I am, literally, sweating. I am sitting in my desk chair sweating while I write. I currently have two applications and two websites open that are physically capable of playing what feels like an infinite library of songs. I am not empowered. I am impotent. I have no fucking idea what to do with myself.
I HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO LISTEN TO MUSIC ANYMORE.
Spotify, you are a seductress. I fall eagerly into your arms only to realize that I am not on a rose petal-covered bed but in a perilous labyrinth. I only see this after it’s too late and I’m racing down aimless corridors, bouncing haphazardly into Ty Segall and then Aphex Twin and then suddenly Gucci Mane. Every one of them is a part of the Minotaur that is my indecision. How do I use you, Spotify? Do I ‘star’ things? Do I make playlists? Do I steal my friends’ playlists? Do I pretend that I can be happily monogamous to one album? Do I put on “Out Getting Ribs” for the eleventieth time and silently weep? Spotify, you are a whore.
iTunes, you’ve gotten fat and impractical. I cannot spend time downloading things and organizing them in a way that makes both of us happy. I need space, and you afford me none. We simply do not get along the way we used to. And though I know in my heart of hearts that you made me the man I am today, I now feel like a shell of the man I once was. Does that make sense? Plus, there’s Spotify. She works at my gym. I know she’s young, but she makes me feel alive. Don’t tell me she only wants me for my money, you bitter bitch. Get out of my life.
Soundcloud, I have strong feelings for you but you know we’ll never truly be together. I call on you every once in a while and you always show up. At first it’s pure bliss. I forget why I don’t keep you around all the time. You show me new things and push me out of my comfort zone, and you do it effortlessly. I feel like I can take my hands off the wheel and follow your lead. Everything feels fresh and new and enlightening. This lasts for an hour. Then: what the fuck… Did you really think I wanted to keep listening to that weird garage-trap-folk mix for an entire hour? Even the mixes I’ve ‘liked’ are only good for an occasional burn. Plus, can’t you get a little more organized? You’re a mess. That’s charming until it’s not. You’re a child, Soundcloud. Leave me alone. I just want to hear “Out Getting Ribs.”
And what about Bandcamp, Mixcloud, YouTube, Datpiff? I avoid you all until I have a specific reason not to, and then I’m buried. I can’t figure out what I want anymore. I’m completely disoriented and dejected, clutching my ears and gasping for air.
We’ve seen this plot before. Music is wildebeest – graceful, beautiful, pure of heart. Technology is hyenas – gross, overwhelming, perverse. I am Mufasa, being trampled by the corrupted element of the very Pride Land I love. And Scar? Scar is time – the puppet-master that uses technology for its own selfish means. Is Simba my unborn child? One can only hope, for the sake of music lovers everywhere.
Featured image courtesy of Queen of Sarcasm