Okay, so I’ve come up with a witty name for my first article. Break time.
Alright, to business.
Everyday we are bombarded with these sounds and noises called music, it doesn’t really matter who you are or where you live, you hear music, and you probably enjoy it. You enjoy it because the simple fact that there’s an ocean of artists and creators out there pumping out songs on a daily basis means that you get to choose what you want to listen to. That’s a wonderful, magical thing. A connection to the internet will literally (figuratively) throw more music at you than you know what to do with. You can literally (figuratively) drown in the never-ending waves of new releases and demos and EPs and singles. It’s literally (literally) the best time to be an artist.
This kid knows what I’m talking about.
In a world (yes, this is the opening of a trailer for the new Avatar movie) where you have more of anything than you know what to do with, a lot of us, myself included, have a tendency to pick a little of this, a little of that, one of these, and.. oh yea, some of those. Now where this is all well and good is the buffet line, not the musical offerings of the internet. The difference being once you’ve chosen your buffet items, you go back to your table and you engage the food. You attack it with your fork (or fingers, no one’s judging here) and you, hopefully, eat it. You apply a quick judgement of texture and taste to the morsel and move on, taking the next bite. When your plate is empty, you go for round 2 (or 5, if you hate yourself). This is what the single has done to music, and what we’ve done to music with our short attention… what was I talking about?
Sorry, when I talk about food I… I… I really like food.
The point that I’m most likely trying to make is that we engorge ourselves in the mountainous piles of music, while not fully appreciating the art. I’m not saying this is everybody of course, but I’m sure most of us, if not all, have been victim to it. How many times have you heard a new song (brand new to you, not necessarily brand new to the world) on the radio, or bandcamp, or Spotify, and really enjoyed it? Ok, good. How many times have you then proceeded to your local music store (read iTunes) and purchased the entire album? Still with me? Ok! Here’s the kicker, how many times have you then actually listened to the entire album. Front to back. And I mean actually listen. Not while on your phone or reading articles (hey, this is an article… meta) or even driving. I’m saying how often do you sit in your room or at your computer (not multi-tasking) and just listen to the music? Just like you would watch a feature length film at a movie theatre (or in your home, if you’re too good for the outside world). I imagine this is where I lose a lot of people. Who has the time to just sit there and listen to one band/artist/album for 30-45 minutes? You can just listen to a track here and there, play it in the car, or use as background music while you clean the house. What’s the difference, right?
Haha! Clean the house! Good one!
Imagine never hearing Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’ in one full sitting. Or The Who’s ‘Tommy’. Or Rush’s ‘2112’.* What if all those tracks in all those classic albums were just sporadically thrown at you over the course of your week? I mean they all have great songs, but the album is something much, much, more. And I’m not just talking concept albums although the 3 I mentioned are and they make the strongest point. With the same point in mind, Black Sabbath’s ‘Black Sabbath’ was the dawn of heavy metal, with a thunder-storm, of all things, starting off the first track, and the drums, bass, guitar, and vocals enthralling and captivating listeners throughout the album. By the time you’re finished with the entirety of it, you understand. You get what those creators were trying to accomplish. Your mind expands and develops.
What I’m saying is that the singles are the lights. You can stare at these lights all you want, they probably feel reassuring and comforting, but don’t stare too long, you might be blinded. Instead, follow the path they illuminate. Give yourself to this new experience that currently has your attention, and let it lead you to new and exciting places, to a deeper understanding of the creator and the creation. I encourage you, find new music, search for sounds that tickle your ear, but make sure you listen. Don’t skim, don’t skip. Listen.
And for god sakes, don’t find a new artist, proceed to torrent their entire back catalogue, and then let them collect dust on the literal (figurative) virtual music shelf that is your cold computer hard drive.
Along with all those ‘books’ and ‘games’ you have.
I am aware that not all albums are specially made to be listened through from front to back, many are just a grouping of songs that more or less have nothing to do with each other and usually end up having 5 (or so) singles out of the 7 (or so) tracks. This doesn’t make them better or worse, they’re just not what I’m talking about.
*Yes, I do recommend all three of these albums. And yes I do strongly advise that you take 20-40 minutes (80 minutes for “The Wall”) out of your day and seriously listen to these. Yes, I have done it, and yes, after the experience the songs were that much better individually because I understood the essence and feeling about the entire album.
The end. Again.