When I was a kid, I had a much closer and more personal relationship with music than I do today. I would make my mom take me to the cool record stores in downtown Santa Cruz every other week when I got my allowance. I would by a cassette or two with my twenty bucks, and then listen to it over and over and over again. I listened to "Never Mind the Bullocks" two or three times a day for months, for example. I would listen to the records so much that I knew every chord, every lyric, every drum beat. Music came to me in a trickle, and I savored it.
As I got older and had more money, I was able to buy more and more music. One or two new albums a month became three or four became four or five. However, I still had time to really savor the music and get to know the albums that I was really into.
I've hit critical mass this year. My trickle of music has become a gushing ocean, and I can't begin to digest it, much less savor it. Between my ipod, the mixtapes and free tracks I download, the discs I get to review, the stuff I borrow from my friends, the stuff I get from the library, and the stuff I actually plunk down money for, I'm averaging ten new albums a month. In fact, in the last five weeks, I've acquired 15 new albums, one of which is a five-disc collection of Charlie Parker's early material. That's a solid day's worth of music, practically. There's no way I can begin to listen to all of that, especially since I don't have a job that facilitates listening to music.
Part of this deluge of music is my desire, as I get more into music criticism, to hear as much music as I can so that I'll at least know what stuff sounds like. Part of it is just greed at wanting to have as much music as possible, part of it is consumerism, and part of it is just knowing that there is so much great stuff out there, and wanting to hear it all.
But damn - 15 cds in five weeks. A lot of those were for reviews, and I'll never listen to them again. Some of them were just out of curiosity - I burned or borrowed stuff that I missed the first time around and wanted to check out. Some, like Oh No's "Dr. NO's Oxperiment" and Madlib's "Beat Konducta in India" may not make it into heavy rotation on my ipod or cd player. Others, however, are pretty brilliant - MIA's "Kala," the National's "Boxer," for example.
The burden of excess - how typically western. Most of the world is starving, and we are trying to figure out ways to eat less. Most of the world is lucky to own a handful of albums, and I'm lamenting that I have too many to listen too.
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