Lately I have found that I’ve been listening to a lot more classic music.
I think this comes down a few reasons; I am currently experiencing the stress-inducing feelings of crisis you get when you are a third year university student and so I’m constantly reminded of how old I am getting; I recently came across a large pile of old records in my home garage; and finally, because the sheer amount of award ceremonies going on at this time of year is starting to make me a bit sick of all the hype around the same new artists.
Don’t get me wrong, for someone who writes about all sorts of music this is a great time of year because you get to see if the hyped-up artists have fulfilled expectations and if the big breakthrough acts get what they deserve. But, in spite of all this excitement, it is easy to forget the music you really love in the sudden wave of highly-recommended and hotly-anticipated new musicians.
…lifetimes of work and unquestionably brilliant songs…
So my sudden rediscovery of many great artists I had forgotten about (Cream, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Fairport Convention and Johnny Cash, to name a few) has led me to a difficult thought. Do I enjoy listening to these ‘classic’ artists, who have earned their way into my affection through lifetimes of work and unquestionably brilliant songs, more than I enjoy the twinges of attention and interest that come with finding a new band? I’m not sure there is an answer to that, but I do know that it comes in phases. I don’t believe in music being universal or timeless, because I think that the era from which songs come from is not only an important way of categorising them, but also just shows what is in style and what is (or was) currently successful. And with that in mind, I think we need a good supply of classic music in order to make sure that what we are listening to now is something that we actually enjoy.
It is a common worry of mine that I am being tricked into liking a lot of music. Not that I am being brainwashed or that artists are made to seem cool and stylish in magazines and so I immediately like them, but just the fact that I am only really able to listen to, and enjoy, music if a promoter or the NME has said I should (there is, of course, the option of seeing them supporting another band or catching them at an open-mic night, but this comes around a lot less often). Now, this is probably a good thing because, like me, promoters and magazines generally like good music, but I never have the same concern when it comes to the old musicians.
…a more meaningful personal connection…
The process seems much more organic, like it has seeped into my mind as a child when my parents listened to it and that liking it is down to a more meaningful personal connection. In fact, it seems like our current music tastes can be attributed to these older musical memories, as we are bound to grow up with a certain affinity towards the artists our parents enjoyed.
This realisation made me wonder what I will be playing to my children in years to come. Will Neil Young, Sandy Denny and Bob Dylan be simply too old to play? Will they be completely and irretrievably out of fashion? Will there even be any way of playing my records and CDs or will I have to learn a completely new format and deal with my current collection becoming obsolete? I’m sure that this is a problem that will sort itself out and that maybe my music taste will dramatically and unconsciously change as my age does, but it still leaves me wondering, will the Jeffrey Lewis, Noah & The Whale and Johnny Flynn playlist that I’m currently listening to be part of a ‘greatest folk hits of the 21st century’ collection some day, and will my current favourites be appreciated as classics one day? Whether they are or not, I hope that my appreciation for music spreads as time goes on.