Tolerance, appreciation required for all types of music
May 8, 2008
If music be the food of love, play on/Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting/The appetite may sicken, and so die.” Though written nearly 400 years ago, Shakespeare’s famous lines ring as true today as “All you need is love,” “The times they are a-changin’” and “Seacrest out!”
Seriously, how often are you listening to music? Car, home, computer, iPod—the list goes on, but needless to say, we fill our lives with it, and rarely a day passes when our ears aren’t pleased with it.
Still, as abundant as it is, music in general seems to be in a state of decline, and I’m not talking about the plummet of record sales since the late 90s as digital downloads are at an all-time high. I’m talking about the “appetite” which Shakespeare mentioned all those years ago, and the idea of music being something deeper than a simple matter of taste.
It happened when Tom Yorke sang to me: “You can scream and you can shout/It is too late now/Because you have not been paying attention.” I listened to the screeching, distorted guitars scream in my ear while walking along campus, iPod on, and observing fellow music lovers, each equipped with ear buds reaching into their pockets. He was right. Music has changed without us even realizing it.
The digital era has turned music from a social experience to one of solitude, fueled by our own narcissistic attitudes. Think about it. How many times have you judged someone else’s tastes, or cringed when riding in the passenger’s seat of a friend’s car while the radio blasted a certain song you loathed? Whether you’re the type that listens to pop radio exclusively or that guy who digs deep into the underground, we’re all at fault. We put on our headphones and walk to our own beat so as not to be disturbed by the sounds of others.
There’s nothing wrong with having opinions on what music is preferred—that’s what makes us individuals—but it’s how we express them. “American Idol” is a prime example, as a TV show that thrives on opinion. While the show is nothing more than a glorified karaoke competition, its audience feeds on the ability to decide the direction the show takes and plays out. The ability to hold the fate of contestants through text messages is tasty, and we cheer on the “good” ones and laugh at the train wrecks, while failing to realize none of the performances are really that good, at least in the shadow of the original artists. But it doesn’t matter. Complete control is hard to let go of.
We need to go back to the roots music was built on—an experience that brings people together and expands on events and ideas relevant to history and today. Let’s not judge musical tastes, but instead, share what we enjoy. Expand your library, be diverse in what you listen to, and experiment with musicians and genres you wouldn’t normally give the time. You may be surprised at what you find. Most importantly, remember that music isn’t just something to move your feet to, but a force that feeds the human soul.
Matthew Loosbrock is a student at UW-River Falls.