For as long as I can remember music has been an essential part of my life. I play music myself (though I haven’t touched the piano all year this year because of my depression…), but mostly I listen to music. If I’m in the house and not sleeping, I’m probably listening to some music on my Apple HomePod. When I walk in the morning I often—though not always— listen to music through earphones, streamed from my iPhone. I listen to music when using the train. I guess before I was a teenager I didn’t listen to much, but ever since then it’s a daily, even hourly thing.
So I’m always shocked when I meet people who don’t really listen to music. Or people who don’t seem interested in listening to new music. I can understand that there are people who grew up in households without music and who didn’t get the bug themselves, but I’m always disappointed when I hear people describe how they used to listen to music but now they don’t. Yeah I know it’s none of my business how others live their lives but I just can’t help feeling that something has been lost.
I wonder if it’s because for a long time, like many young people, music was an integral part of my identity. As a teen I listened to Metal, lots of 60s music (was a huge Doors fan), some goth, grunge when that came about etc. I dressed as you’d expect someone who listened to that to dress. My friends dressed similarly. We’d exchange cassette tapes, we’d get together, drink, and listen to music. We’d go to a rock bar where (again, we’d drink) and listen to either live bands or put something on the jukebox.
I think this is probably a similar experience for most teens. I probably went a step further in that I played in bands (keyboards and guitar) and wrote some of my own tunes.
But what happens to those people who stop listening to music when they become an adult? Actually I think there are probably two types: those who stop entirely listening to music, and those who still listen occasionally but only to the same music they were into when they were young. Don’t the former feel something is lacking in their lives? Don’t the latter feel stuck in the past?
About a decade ago I’d say it was challenging to discover new music. You needed to either buy music magazines for recommendations, actively check out websites or go to music stores and listen to CDs there. But times have changed dramatically in the last few years. With Apple, Spotify and other music subscriptions you lose the ‘owning’ aspect of music but you gain the ability to discover a *ton* of new music from musicians of every age. So if you want to find new music and can afford the subscriptions, there’s no excuse not to. On these services you can follow your friends and see what they’re listening to, which is another way to discover bands you might not have known before. If you feel you’re stuck in a musical rut, these services are there to help you.
Anyway, I’m genuinely interested in how music falls out of people’s lives. I’m guessing it’s not an active decision to stop listening, but probably just other interests (including work) take over. And I know I shouldn’t judge people if they don’t listen, but part of me feels they’re missing out on a huge pool of joy and emotion by not doing so. While I no longer have an ‘identity’ that’s defined or even shaped by the music I listen to, music remains one of the constant loves of my life.