What do you listen to NOW? (December 6, 2001)

[In response to a general query to the group from another member]

What I listen to might be best described as “all different kinds of stuff.” There aren’t too many branches of the Great Tree of Music you WON’T find on my CD player (although I eschew opera, reggae, Mongolian tribal chants, and Madonna); for me the point is in the synthesis and the yin-yang, mixing it up and keeping things interesting [being your own personal DJ must be one of the great defining Boomer traits] and having on hand all kinds of music for all those many moods). I do admit to a particular fondness for quirky indie-popsters with idiosyncratic, individual voices (Barbara Manning, for instance, has been in my ears a lot lately) with the occasional dose of old-school punk as a palate cleanser, but on any given day I could be listening to almost anything, as long, of course, as it’s something good and genuine, by an artist who knew what she wanted to say and was reasonably successful at the saying.

I’ve gone as far as to put on my website a page titled `Music for the Real World (done by musicians who live in it along with the rest of us),’ where I recommend various artists who are all over the map in stylistic terms, but have this much in common: they hew to their own particular vision rather than bend to marketplace demands. If you’re a performer with this kind of integrity you might find yourself having to hold a day job, and you’ll definitely end up with smaller audiences than Britney or Ricky, but these audiences will be filled with people who get you, who appreciate you for what you are because you say something to them, and for them. And these audiences will probably mean more to you than just another anonymous scary screaming mass. (Disclaimer: this is an educated guess on my part since I don’t sing my songs in front of rooms full of strangers, though on a couple of occasions I’ve gotten up on a stage and read some prose. I have received applause, too, and am fond of it).

I don’t particularly like to listen to music in bars (unless I’m in Ireland), not because these places are frequented by younger people (when I go out on the town, I still like to think of myself as belonging to the 20-24 demographic; nothing wrong with a little strategic self-delusion on occasion), but because I’ve been-there-done-that and it’s not particularly interesting anymore. Unless I’m with a particularly copacetic companion or going to see a particularly interesting performer. Or, preferably, both.

<snip>

In response to RIAA Releases 2000 Consumer Profile:
<<Of note was the 45 and over segment, which more than doubled its
share of the market since 1990, rounding out the decade with a 23.8%
share of the market. This past decade clearly revealed the significance
that the baby boom generation places on music in their lives.>>

This doesn’t surprise me at all (for proof, look no further than most of the posts in this group). I still buy plenty of new CDs and go to concerts when I can; I know I ain’t yer typical consumer, but it’s comforting to realize I’m not alone, even though I’m a few years away from 45 (and in no hurry to get there). One of my best friends is a lady peace activist/mother of three, born in `48, who lives in the Boston area; for years, every Thursday night she’s had friends come over to jam in her basement – nobody is especially good, but they are loud, and at least once or twice they’ve ventured forth to a local bar to make a joyful noise unto the drinkers.

As far as wanting to make music myself, I’ve also felt this urge – most strongly, as it happens, over the past year, coinciding with a general reawakening of what was always a strong interest in music throughout my life. I haven’t begun writing songs and performing them in public, at least not yet (be thankful for small things), but occasionally I find myself singing out loud some lines of a favorite song not so much for a diversion as because, well, it just comes out, loudly and clearly, wanting to be sung, and I’m as surprised as anyone else that I’m doing it. So perhaps I should pursue this, but only if I decide that it makes sense or says something others might get something out of besides a laugh. It never occurred to me that I might be part of a trend, and I don’t particularly want to be (why start now?), but I think it is true that when you get to your 30s and 40s you start thinking “time is running out, it’s now or never if I want to do all those things I dreamed about at 17 and 22…or at least one or two of those things.” (It’s never too late to have a happy young adulthood.)

In other words, it comes down to Settling Down vs. Now or Never: the realist battles the dreamer in one’s head, with True Happiness at stake at rainbow’s end. And who wins depends on, ah…we all have to answer that for ourselves, don’t we?

Let the sun shine through.

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