I used to be that guy. You know, THAT guy. The guy in the Pink Floyd shirt from your local department store, constantly slamming Justin Bieber and singing the praises of when music was “good”. It took a few years of high school and new experiences to strip me of the mentality, but I certainly have a scar or two from my past life. The biggest one of them being my need to keep current and stay on the edge of what’s going on in music. Granted, as someone who reports on new and upcoming bands I’m basically required to, but it’s not a position I’ve settled into out of necessity so much as one I was more than willing to step into because it didn’t require me to look back for too long.

I recently started going on a bit of a David Bowie bender, starting with his 1977 album, Heroes. The music is fantastic, but there’s still something that wants to pull me into the now. An urgency that music from the past can’t satiate. It’s as if a part of me is looking at what I used to listen to, the time period it was associated with as well as when it was released in order to form the perfect trifecta of cringing into infinity. I’m pretty sure the person I was actively wants the person I’ve become to remember where he came from, but where I came from musically wasn’t so great. I didn’t have the best attitude about it and was stuck in a negative mindset which led me to condemn artists and albums that I now frequently enjoy.


The thing is, that attitude was bred due to my ignorance of anything outside my bubble. Now, I am no longer ignorant, but have swapped out modern/popular music for older music and am just as ignorant as I once was, but in a different way. I’m doing the thing that I actively hate myself for doing all the time, so why do I still do it? If I’m so afraid of the way that I used to be, why did I never change? It’s hard to look myself in the eye and tell myself how much I love music without feeling like I’m being fraudulent.

I shouldn’t be so ashamed to look back, nor should I belittle the music that influenced the music that I love so much today. In writing this piece I may not have solved my problem entirely, but I have recognized an unconscious bias I have that shouldn’t exist. I consider myself to be a pretty positive person, especially when it comes to my appreciation of music, so that attitude should carry across more than just a few decades. Plus, I know that I’m only cheating myself by dismissing music prior to the 80’s, as some of it is damn good. If anyone else has this problem, I would like to hear your experience and how you deal/dealt with it. For now, I’m going to press play on David Bowie’s new album Blackstar (★) and see if I can reconcile my relationship with the past in the future.



One Response

  1. karlo

    nice work ryan. i definitely see where you’re coming from, and if I’ve understood you correctly, i think it’s a case of having to separate the music you used to listen to from the attitude you had whilst listening to it. the issue was not what you were listening to, but the fact you were negative and ignorant towards other releases. similarly, listening back to older music does not now suddenly mean you’re a step closer to becoming ignorant and negative again. what matters is that your attitude has now changed, and so you should be able to enjoy music from all periods of time, regardless of whether it was made yesterday or in the 70s. you listen back not because your past self demands it, but because your current self wants to, because the music deserves to be heard


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