Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Music for Music's Sake

When do you listen to music?  In the car on the way to work?  On your computer at work?  While you're making dinner?  When was the last time you sat down and just plain listened to music with no other distractions?

For being such a lover of music, I realized recently that I rarely listen to music for the sake of listening to music.  Music is always something added to a another activity as filler.  My attention span is bad, so I need to have at least two stimuli to keep me from losing my mind.  Sometimes, though, music needs to be fully experienced on its own to get the full effect.

Saturday was Record Store Day across America.  Music stores had some rare merchandise and performances to celebrate the record.  I sifted through the vinyls when I stopped in at The Exchange in Squirrel Hill and came across a lot of great records.  But they were records I already had on CD or on my computer, so why would I need a vinyl copy?  I can't even put those tunes on my iPod!  I saw Come on Feel the Illinoise! by Sufjan Stevens in this selection and decided that someone needed to own it, so I got it for my roommate, Andy Redfield.  Once I got it, though, I thought about how great it would be to just invite some friends over to listen to the album.  Where have the days gone when we just got together to listen to music and talk about it.  We rarely sit back and think about what the music makes us feel.

This realization was reinforced by the broadcasting of the Coachella festival in California this past weekend.  Many of the biggest acts were broadcast, such as The Black Keys, Bright Eyes, and The National.  On Saturday I watched the Friday performances while working on a paper.  Saturday night I did the same, but we set aside time to watch Mumford and Sons plugged into Andy's TV late that evening.  I even stayed up until about 3am to watch the beginning of Arcade Fire's set.

Sunday night I was really hit with an overwhelming appreciation for music.  The Strokes performed at 12am EST and I sat up at my parents' house all night watching.  The Strokes aren't a particularly entertaining live band and generally rely on their incredible music to speak for itself.  The camera work on the broadcast was intriguing because it was all in black-and-white and stayed zoomed in on certain members of the band the entire time, unlike the other performances.  The music was encapsulating and I loved every riff and scream.  After a while, I just laid in bed watching and enjoying.  No other time have I ever just watched a concert so intently.

I've been babbling quite a bit, but here's my challenge for you.  Pick your favorite album and just listen to it.  Listen to it a few times.  Listen to the intricacies and the lyrics and the details that made you fall in love with it.  I've been experiencing Funeral and The Suburbs by Arcade Fire over and over again and they keep getting better and better.  There is nothing more invigorating than beautiful music.

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