My Ears are Tired

Someone remarked the other day that it had been a while since I made a mix CD and asked when the next one was coming. I said I didn’t know, that I had been “working on one” for months now, with not much progress being done on it.

The truth is, I haven’t really listened to any music in ages. In the car I listen to nothing or NPR. I’m in front of a computer all day long and I never fire up the mp3 player. The other day I decided, “okay, I’m gonna listen to some music today” and I heard one song, paused it to make a phone call, and never hit play again.

I subscribe to several mp3 blogs. Until recently I regularly downloaded stuff from them and filed away to listen to later. But I stopped listening months ago and stopped downloading weeks ago.

I can’t really explain it. We’re really in a new golden age of music. The digital era means that at any given moment I have access to more music — free and otherwise — than I can ever hope to listen to in my lifetime. Between the three or four mp3 blogs I subscribe to I can get around a half-dozen new songs per day to try out. I used to listen to KEXP online, and if I got tired of it there are hundreds of other online radio stations I can tune into. And yet, I don’t. I only hear the quiet hum of a fan all day. And I don’t miss it.

Part of it is the so-called Paradox of Choice. There are so many bands and songs being thrown at me that I’m overwhelmed. I don’t know where to start. Even when I listen, I’m rarely really listening, and it just becomes background noise. If it’s just background noise, what difference does it make what it is?

It’s been a while since I got really excited about a band or an album. There’s stuff I like, sure, and even stuff I like a lot, but I don’t miss it when it’s not around, and I don’t particularly like it much more than other stuff I already have.

I don’t know if the problem is that the results have been so disappointing that I’ve stopped trying or that my lack of trying has resulted in disappointing results. It’s possible (and probable) that I’m just Going Through a Stage and will get over it in time. We’ll see.

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3 Responses to My Ears are Tired

  1. Andrew Weiss says:

    I know exactly how you feel. I’m hard-pressed to keep up with even my favorite mp3 blogs — while the selelctions are usually great, there’s only so much time in a day and I already have more stuff that I feel like I should be listening to more.

    Or we’re just getting old.

  2. Dave says:

    Did you promise yourself in high school that you would never let this happen to you? I know I did, and it happened anyway. At least for the last five or six years it has. Even when I did buy new music, it was pretty much always old music. Lately I’ve been getting interested in new stuff again, mostly thanks to eMusic and a couple of younger friends turning me on to some good stuff and dragging me to shows (God, doesn’t going to live shows feel almost like work sometimes now?) and making me mix CDs. So all I’m saying is maybe there’s still hope for you too. Maybe. But maybe not. We’re old, man.

  3. Otro Dave says:

    On the plus side, not being into newer/more obscure music makes you less of an elitist right? ;-)

    If you haven’t yet, check out Ted Leo and the Pharmacists’ “Hearts of Oak”. Sorry if I sound evangelical about this album but in 2005 it helped get me into music again after a dead period and is still one of my favorite albums ever.