On a personal note…
What is with this compulsion to write about music? What is my endgame? At least when I studied literature, I knew it was because I wanted to write, so I read from the point of view of someone on the inside, someone who wanted to understand the craft and apply it to my own writing. I don’t know how to examine music as an outsider. It feels somewhat exploitative to look at music and the “scene” from a purely academic perspective. I don’t necessarily wish to write songs or join a band (although I wouldn’t rule it out). I’ve become acutely aware of the gaps in my musical knowledge and feel the need to “study up,” like I’m cramming for the huge test. But that’s just it, isn’t it? There will be no final exam — unless called upon to prove my “cred.” At what point does this all just become the masturbatory utterances of the intellectually curious? I think I started this endeavor to escape from that kind of experience.
The other problem: trying to take a well-rounded look at music, even a subgenre like indie (which in turn contains a multitude of subgenres), is a mighty overwhelming task. Music is readily available on the internet, but where do you start, and when do you find the time to listen to it all, much less absorb it? Much has been said by greater critics about the curse of so much access, how it destroys the idea of “the album,” how it makes new music more disposable and fleeting and, therefore, less meaningful for the listeners. The blessing, on the flip side, is that the access creates a niche for more adventurous artists and provides exposure to a world-wide audience without the traditional gatekeepers. This overabundance of music is forcing critics and audiences alike to specialize just so they can keep up. That, or you resign yourself to the fact that your knowledge will never be more than a random sampling. The student/teacher in me gets bogged down in the need to cover all my bases.
So this is my personal wish-list:
1) I would like to re-educate myself on classics I’ve missed or ignored (let the list-making commence!)
2) The same goes for more contemporary “classics”
3) I would like to discover at least one new artist per week
4) Catch up on all the as-yet un-listened-to music on my iPod (fat chance)
5) Make a stab at keeping up with new releases each week.
Ay, ay, ay, I’m gonna need a bigger hard drive.