This morning as I listened to Duran Duran's "Decade" I thought back to my childhood and how my parents listened to Seattle's KOMO AM 1000, a station of oldies and news and wondered how they could listen to that. But to them, it wasn't oldies. It was just slightly older music from a time when life was probably easier... before full-time jobs, car and mortgage payments, before me and my brother.
And I thought "Why am I listening to this? Will my child hate this music? How can anyone not appreciate Duran Duran? This is good stuff." Truth be told, it's probably only semi-good. But I like it. Music seems somewhat disposable. We buy albums and listen to them for a few months or years and then they get relegated to a closet or in a 300-disc changer that's not plugged in and they slowly get covered with dust. When we pull them out, we don't just remember the tunes, we remember where we were when the tunes came out, what we were doing, what the weather was like, how we didn't have to work full-time, didn't have car and mortgage payments, and so on. After awhile, we get tired of paying $15 for something we know will eventually end up like the rest of them.
But it's not just that life is harder or more complex, but I also think it's that we're less patient. Sure, there is still great music coming out today. The Wife can't get enough of OutKast's "Shake It" or whatever it's called and I'm really enjoying the current state of Pop Country and Contemporary Christian music. But I think we're less patient, we don't want to sit through commercials, irrelevant traffic reports (Um, hello L.A. radio... ever heard of the 210 freeway?) and the inane blather of most morning DJ's. So we pop in a CD, turn it up and regress to a happy memory. And at the same time, we miss what's on the radio these days until one day we turn it on and say "I can't relate. What is this garbage you're listening to? Didn't we raise you with better standards?"
Maybe digital media players and satellite radio will change all that. We have the opportunity to be exposed again to new music, we can pick and choose what we want to hear, and we can skip the commercials. The Sony double cassette deck I bought in High School, while still shiny, will look as ancient to her as my grandparent's console record players that doubled as a buffet tables. She'll never know the joy of listening to tapes warp and then frantically pulling them out of the car stereo only to realize it's too late as the shiny ribbon continues to be pulled from the tape in your hand into the player several feet away. She may even find the Discman to be a historic novelty or buying music at a store a silly inconvenient waste of time.