I seem to have stopped listening to music. It wasn’t a conscious decision – it just kind of crept up on me. I gradually slipped from being someone who always had music in their life to someone who didn’t.
My preference for silence springs from my home. It is a very noisy place. All manner of sound spills out of every room almost all the time, resulting in a cacophonous din which makes clarity of thought an impossibility. In desperation, I began to protect the rare moments of peace by not destroying them with my own music.
However, made aware by the constant references to musical selection on Facebook, that I seemed to be out on a limb, I thought that I ought to revisit my music collection and see if anything appealed. After careful analysis, it seems that most of my records fall into two camps – stuff I have because it reminds me of something else and stuff I have because I thought, at some point, that I ought to have it.
The first group is easy. It’s made up of music that I think I like but when I listen carefully, I realise that I simply enjoy the connotations that it carries. These are songs that remind me of people or of a holiday or a great year at school. If I were to hear most of that music for the first time now, would I bother listening for a second time? Unlikely. So does music like that have any merit for the purposes of this exercise? Well, I suppose I enjoy the memories but that doesn’t make it music that I like does it?
The second group is more complex. There is stuff I bought because people whose opinion I respected liked it. There is stuff I bought to ingratiate myself with people I considered to be important at the time. There is stuff I bought because I thought that I should listen to enhance my own knowledge. I don’t really like any of it. It is music I own because someone else likes it. What’s the point of that?
So I looked at every album I have and imagined that I had never heard it before. What did I actually like when looked at in those terms? What remained was very small. Boys singing sacred choral music and soulful stuff circa 1965 -80.
So this makes me think that perhaps it’s not listening to music that is the problem. It’s listening to the wrong stuff. Instead of playing things I thought I liked, I should listen to the music that makes my soul sing. This is probably really obvious to everyone else but it has taken me an awfully long time to get there.
On reflection I do probably prefer silence but a more discerning approach to what I actually want to listen to might get me better results. And, as in so many things, I need to stop thinking that I am missing out on some crucial aspect of life. Just because everyone else tells me what they are listening to, doesn’t mean that I need to be doing it too.