Cheapened by abundance

This morning, I accidentally bumped my HomePod while cleaning off the desk and some music started. Land Locked Blues by Bright Eyes came on, from his 2005 album I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning. It’s making me nostalgic. That is about the time I stopped listening to Bright Eyes and stopped buying CDs altogether.

I was 24 that year. It was before smart phones became popular, and 2005 was about a year after I got my first iPod. I still actively managed my library for a few more years, but that slowly started to change as streaming became more popular.

My music listening habits are so much more random since streaming became a thing. I struggle to even answer when people ask “who’s your favorite band?” or “what kind of music do you listen to?” I miss the more intentional nature of it all when I’d manage an actual library, even if it wasn’t in the form of physical media.

I have tried to go back at times and explored the underground and alternative music that I didn’t have the privilege of knowing or experiencing in my younger years before the Internet, and in this way, I love the archeological digging and discovering. However, that takes a lot of work and patience because it’s really easy to find a shinier new object of my affection, however fleeting.

I don’t think breadth of content has improved anything about the experience for me. If anything, it’s too easy to push things aside without giving them a chance and I don’t listen to entire albums very often anymore.

I’ve toyed around with having my own library again on a Plex server, but adding new music is not easy, and if we’re being honest, it can get expensive in a way that feels unnecessary. Also, I have so many other things going on in my life that I don’t have a lot of down time to manage it. But these are just excuses. If it were important enough for me, I’d make it happen.

It’s entirely likely that the shift in music medium has caused a psychological shift in me in such a way that I care much less about music now than I once did. If I sit with that feeling for any amount of time, I feel a little guilty about it.

All this to say, music feels very cheap to me these days. It’s everywhere in abundance and therefore it feels much less valuable. As a musician myself, this feels strange to admit, but it’s what I feel in my gut. I don’t have a solution, but I wish it were different.

I want that feeling of freedom again, driving around on the first warm day of the year with the windows down, listing to my favorite album. I want that feeling of finding an album and it becoming the soundtrack that defines a season, a year.

Life of Bryan © Bryan R., 2024