Sometimes reality and satire blur in the pages of The Onion, none more so than this article about a life-long love affair with music ending at age 35.
Thing is, the numbers back up this phenomenon. The recorded music industry traditionally targets young audiences because older audiences tend not to spend as much on new music. If they do, it’s on catalog.
I think this year really marks the time I’ve become that demographic.
Right now, I’ve got Lisa Stansfield’s Affection album playing, and it’s been on regular rotation on my media player. I downloaded it from eMusic, and I wanted to buy a CD yesterday. But Waterloo had a ratty used copy that was just slightly scratched up. I looked online to see if a Best Buy or Barnes and Noble in my area had it. They did not. So it’s probably off to Amazon again …
Affection was released in 1990 — 20 years ago. It’s one of many albums I’ve bought or downloaded that was not released in the year it was purchased.
The list is extensive, but the ones that really stood out were:
- John Adams, Nixon in China
- Santigold, Santigold
- Sex Pistols, Never Mind the Bullocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols
- Anita Baker, Rapture
- Ornette Coleman, The Shape of Jazz to Come
- The Police, Zenyatta Mondatta
- The Decemberists, Castaways and Cutouts
That’s just the old stuff that’s new to me. I didn’t include albums I previously bought on other formats from the likes of Erasure, Sade, Hiroshima or Club Nouveau, nor the extensive reissue campaign for Duran Duran.
Part of it boils down to taste. I’ve heard some of these young bands, and they too slavishly emulate their idols. One of my favorite snark templates is " I liked X better when it was called Y". Let me demonstrate:
- I liked Sufjan Stevens’ Illinois better when it was called In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
- I liked The Drums better when they were called The Smiths.
- I liked La Roux better when they were called Depeche Mode.
Fans will think that’s an oversimplification, but when you grew up listening to this style of music when it pissed off the generation before mine, it’s tough not to become a curmudgeon. (Oh shit, I’ve become Them.) Maybe that’s why I dig Tokyo Jihen — they actually make Steely Dan sound hard.
I think it’s mostly access. I didn’t know at the time I subscribed to eMusic how much it would change my relationship with music. eMusic allows me to explore catalog relatively cheaply (certainly far cheaper when I signed up as compared to now.)
This past year, eMusic added content from major labels, which spurred me to get around to listening to things like John Adams, Sex Pistols and Lisa Stansfield.
And there’s something to the idea of discovering new things in old times. Classical, anyone?
In April 2011, I will celebrate the -1-year anniversary of my 40th birthday (read that as Negative One Year). There was a time I would proselytize the New. I will gladly leave that responsibility to writers more age appropriate. I want to sit in the corner now with the past.