Saturday, November 28, 2009

"I remember when my life was not constantly on shuffle."

There are certain lessons life teaches that I must really love, because I seem to insist upon learning them over and over again. One of these that I'm thinking about right now has been phrased many ways; its essence: the way you do one thing is the way you do everything.

And so it was that the last line of Bernard Perusse's article on recreating albums verbatim in concert reached out and demanded my attention.

The last album I listened to in full -- from start to finish, as out-of-date as those terms might be at present when it comes to modern music packaging and delivery -- was Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation. (To complete the circle of irony, it was because I had been reminded of their recent tour playing the album.)

My relationship with music was built in two key ways. One was listening to commercial radio, which gradually shifted over into watching music video shows and stations. The other was intensive listening sessions to certain albums.

The first activity kept me exposed to new ideas. The second allowed me to understand in depth those to which I had already been introduced.

I still listen to songs intently, but even with a band like Radiohead who provide high payoff for however much attention is invested, album listening is rare.

One reason is that music has become an urban survival tool, making the daily dayjob commute less personal and more bearable. Another is that internet culture has turned up my ADD meter, such that it's more difficult to not get restless when asked to sit still and listen to one musical act for an hour or so.

Regardness, shuffle is now the norm -- my new way of maintaining one of my most important relationships. Is it any wonder that every other aspect of my life becomes equally chaotic?

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