The Fall is one of those bands I know are important, I read about all the time, have been told are amazing, but for whatever reason I never made the effort to explore it for myself. I wish I could be as musically on top of everything as all the bloggers and critics I admire, but it’s just so draining. I don’t have enough heart to pass around for every amazing band of the moment, plus catch up on all the musical edumakation I’m desperately behind on. (I always feel like I’m behind.) It’s so tiring sometimes! I wonder whether the fact that technology increases the availability of music (how much gets put out and how frequently) doesn’t lessen our engagement with it.
I’m not making any shrill claims, and I certainly wouldn’t repeat David Brooks’ sentimental “it was better back in the day” chorus, but my relationship with music has changed significantly in the past 5 years. That may just be age and losing that passionate naivete. I’m grateful to technology for facilitating music discovery to an unheard of degree. I can read a wealth of interviews and reviews a click away. I can hear the music immediately, rather than hunting it down weeks later at a record store, if I remember. But in a strange way, the ease of technology creates an albatross-like imperative: because the music is there for the hearing, I feel the weight of duty to hear it. It’s no longer so innocent or left to chance. Fewer and fewer are the memorable personal stories of discovery: “I heard it while getting my haircut, wrote down the lyrics, and hunted it down” or “My first boyfriend introduced me to the Stooges,” as they are replaced by “Oh, I heard it on the internetz. Hype Machine? The Music Slut? I don’t remember.” And the music I do discover seems to last for a shorter and shorter period of time. It is probably the case that I fall in “real” love with the same number of albums per year as before, it’s just that these albums are accompanied by many, many more albums that pass into my range of hearing, clamoring for my attention. Is there such a thing as music fatigue? I know I sound like an ignorant luddite, and I’m fully aware of the bulletproof arguments against this line of thought, but I’m airing it anyway.
That said, I took it upon myself to listen to The Fall yesterday because I was reading Ann Powers’ list of Alt-Punk Essentials on eMusic. (She’s a critic for the LA Times. I <3 her.) I now understand the magnitude of their reputation. I cherish these belated discoveries, because they seem more personal, as though it took the right moment in my life to hatch, despite its greatness being there for the discovering all along. So, yes, thanks technology, I just need to figure out how to tame you.