In 2014, tragedy struck when I found my 3,000+ song catalog on iTunes inexplicably locked after a looping update malfunction. All the years of finding new music through late study nights or following up on suggestions from friends were negated in an instant. Over these years, an accumulation of new discoveries formed a vast catalog of music where, regardless of mood, I could always find something to listen and connect to.
This is the music enthusiast quandary I am stuck in now. I incessantly plummet back to familiarity. Rather than pushing myself to uncover new artists. I ask myself, is this wrong of me to only listen to older projects vs. discovering new projects?
I incessantly contemplate this question. There is an emotional memory glued to many of those now-lost songs. Every time I hear a particular song, I mentally teleport myself to those associated memories. The vivid visuals, the gut-wrenching flurry of feelings, and even the aroma of the air would flood back into my conscious. Truly, my most moldable years coincide with my discovery of some remarkable music.
For example, every single time I listen to J. Cole’s Friday Night Lights mixtape, I suddenly recall what happened during that period of my life and the labors my developing, adolescent mind endured. I listened to The Weeknd as a heartbroken, young man looking to discover who he was all the while sippin’ on a drink that one could easily light on fire. Albeit I was in Southern California, Abel made it feel as if we were weathering the same journey to manhood side by side. Even though many years have passed, these memories remain crisp and distinct.
Still, today, I find myself fixated on listening to the pieces of work I correlate with my most profound mental and transformative periods. In a way, it is masochistic to desire to take my emotions back to those I felt at 19. An age defined by heartbreak and notions of worthlessness. In my mid-20s, however, I know this album will compel me to feel nostalgic.
Even though I experienced formidable spiritual journeys when I was young, my adulthood transformations have realized more personal development and innovation than both my high school and college years combined. However, the figment of my music catalog still reflects the changes I was going through during my perplexing years at college.
Clearly, I am apprehensive to branch out. I give an artist one song to ‘wow’ me, which is terrible. If I don’t completely connect to the song on an intrinsic level after the self-imposed listening limit is up, I press play on familiar projects.
Personally, if I listen to an artist’s entire album but don’t feel a connection, I feel as if I wasted my time. But what about the artist who crafts the album, pours their heart out in their lyrics, and paints pictures of their trials and tribulations? They deserve a listen.
Ultimately, it is great that there are bodies of work I listen to years later. That is the true definition of a music enthusiast.
Nonetheless, if I do not take the time to step out of my comfort zone, both the emerging artist and I lose. The artist loses the chance to connect with someone else on an emotional level through their music. They not only miss the chance to provide a positive impact on me, but on whomever I might share the album with.
For me, I come out an even bigger loser. I lose the opportunity to hear someone else’s story. I squander the possibility of connecting with a friendly stranger. I squander the opportunity to support another’s dream. And worst of all, I fail to create new memories that encapsulate my current life trials and tribulations. I lose the ability to live through music nostalgia years down the road.
It seems to me that the crux is not that I am a poor supporter, but that I lack openness to music vulnerabilities. I am gripped by a fear that doesn’t allow me to connect with new work on a profound level.
This current constricted personal system of music nostalgia needs be vulnerable. I challenge myself to read incredible music journalism covering new artists. I ought to listen to these musicians’ stories. I am to simply enjoy their story in the moment, in the present.
Today, I will press play on a new artist I haven’t listened to before. Today, I shall live in the present moment and embrace a new connection. In ten years, I just may find myself pressing play again, reminiscing on writing this article and making a step towards living my best life. Where I decided to live each day in the present. With that mindset, we can all die with no regrets.