How do you do it? Easy.

From The New Yorker:

We seem to have created an environment in which wonderful music, newly discovered, is difficult to treasure. For treasures, as the fugitive salesman in the flea market was implying, are hard to come by—you have to work to find them. And the function of fugitive salesmen is to slow the endless deluge, drawing our attention to one album at a time, creating demand not for what we need to survive but for what we yearn for. Because how else can you form a relationship with a record when you’re cursed with the knowledge that, just an easy click away, there might be something better, something crucial and cataclysmic? The tyranny of selection is the opposite of freedom. And the more you click, the more you enhance the disposability of your endeavor.

Man, where do I even start here?

It’s easy as hell to form a relationship with a record. If it’s good you stick with it, and if it’s not you don’t. There are still those of us who don’t think to click to the next song in search of something better.

And I don’t see how that has to have changed, even with new technology. People are still going to discover new music and bond with it. I think of Sabra and how she first discovered Pat Green, for one, on a radio countdown show but got more familiar with his music with Pandora. And she told me she discovered a lot of other music she had never heard before. Beyond that, I think of all the heavy metal I got introduced to via Sirius, as well as all the old country music I had not heard in so long. It’s not exactly Pandora, Spotify or what-have-you, but I could have easily have clicked to the next song if I didn’t like what I heard.

And that goes to the real root of the problem that the article doesn’t really address — the disposability of so much modern music. After all, you hear all these names being bandied about now — Nicki Minaj, Justin Bieber, One Direction, and the list goes on. Does anyone really think those people have any sort of staying power? Or, hell, look at what country music has become. Hunter Hayes? Yeah, that’s just what we need, a Rascal Flatts soundalike, as if the original was worth emulating. If that’s what I had to listen to I’d be clicking to the next song as fast as I could.

But on the other hand, there’s George Strait, Merle Haggard, the Rolling Stones, The Allman Brothers, Rush, Iron Maiden, and the list goes on. And no matter how one discovers music from people like that, it’s something that the listener can easily form a bond with. It’s music that speaks to you, that says, “Come on in and sit a spell.”

The long and short of all this, I think, is that good music is going to endure. It’s going to withstand the temptation to click to whatever’s on next. I don’t see why that can’t be another of those universal truths.

(h/t Country California)

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One Response to “How do you do it? Easy.”

  1. Sabra Morse Onstott Says:

    After all, you hear all these names being bandied about now — Nicki Minaj, Justin Bieber, One Direction, and the list goes on. Does anyone really think those people have any sort of staying power?

    I think pop music, by its very nature, is disposable.

    This is one of the strengths of genre music: you’re not encouraged to be constantly on the lookout for the next big thing. (And further, I’d say if you are, it’s a personal failing.) I don’t remember the last time I heard a new Everclear song on the radio, but I know they have a new album out (& yeah, it’s on my list of things to get).

    I became familiar with Corb Lund’s music via Radio Free Texas, & it was good enough to seek out albums and I have no doubt I’ll remain a fan. Same thing with Steve Earle, really. With the exception of KNBT, no one plays his newer music, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have longevity–he’s good enough to seek out.

    Country music having turned more toward pop music and adopted the incessant hunt for the next big thing (witness the quote about Vince Gill’s difficulty in getting a hit) has only weakened the genre, and will continue to do so. It’s the music industry, much more than the audience, that has lost patience with developing lasting interests.

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