Friends have started recapping their top 10s in music. Top 10 favorite albums of 2016, top 10 best concerts….
Leaving aside that if I ATTEND ten concerts in a year, I must have won the lottery or something, I don’t even know ten albums to make a list. It’s not an age thing. I didn’t suddenly get too old to know what the kids are listening to. It’s a disconnected thing. I no longer have the people in my life with whom I once talked about music. I no longer feel like I have the resources I used to have.
Steven was (is) a musician and one of the biggest music lovers I’ve ever known. He could spend hours digging through the racks of a record store. He found something new to love almost weekly. And he shared it all with me. I learned more about music, not only discovered new bands and new styles but how to find them on my own, while I was with him.
After we weren’t together anymore, I still did a lot of that. I searched for new music anywhere I could. I had to because so much of what I had to listen to reminded me of him and I didn’t want anything in my life that reminded me of him. So I went looking for something that was strictly my own. That’s how I found Kill Hannah, but that’s a story I’ve told more times than I can count.
MySpace was a great resource. When I was going through all of that, MySpace had all of their musicians divided up by major labels, indie labels, and unsigned. You could scroll through page after page of links to profiles for bands including “for fans of…” lists of other band each one sounded like. Within the next year, that feature kind of stopped working and then it went away completely, relieving me of yet another resource for new music.
Ryan and I had shared a lot of music before Steven came along. Years later, we tried to pick up the same conversation but it was different because I had had new influences. A fundamental difference in the conversation was now, he though “indie” was a style of music, whereas I considered it a tax bracket.
And as time went on, I found more people to talk with and we’d talk for a while and then we’d stop talking about music and start talking about other things. Or figure out that we didn’t have the same tastes and start talking about other things.
And pretty soon, I stopped seeking out new things. I’d go to shows and if I liked the opening acts, I’d pledge to dig into their catalog when I got home but most of the time, I didn’t. I listen to the radio and add songs I like to my ever-expanding Spotify playlists but it never goes farther than that. I don’t look into the artists themselves, just snag the songs I liked. But I didn’t have anyone to share with and it soon it wasn’t nearly as fun to find new things.
There is something in my personality, something in my wiring that makes me want to share the things with other people who will get as excited about them as I do. When I don’t have those people, I stop looking for things to be excited about.
And so, the moral of this story is that I don’t have ten best albums of 2016. I, honestly, don’t even have one.