Wednesday, August 05, 2009


Music, Love, and The Imaginative Dimension of Experience

This post is just a musing. I hope I find the time to go further with it, because it is an idea I think about quite a bit, but have never written about previously.

A friend of mine wrote to me, saying he hasn't gotten into iTunes, because,

I'm also still stuck on the "album", so the way of thinking about music in terms of buying individual songs is still pretty foreign to me.  It did occur to me that i should, or at least could, do more of this for cool individual songs I happen to like.  but I haven't really done it yet ...



I replied,

This brings up an interesting conversation that my friend Mark (Record Producer and Literary Agent) and I had. He and I both buy stuff on iTunes, and we've both noticed that the fact that we can get everything we want, whenever we want, has lessened our appreciation of music.

We've talked about how when we were younger, we'd have 10 bucks or whatever it was at the time, and we'd go and buy an album that we had been wanting to have for a long time. And, we'd listen to it the whole way through, sitting there with the record on the turntable, and reading the lyrics and checking out the cover graphics, and we'd fall in love with the whole package, including the feel of the cover (many had textures) and the smell of the printing ( I remember, in particular, Steely Dan used a extremely high-gloss method for the Aja album, which really smelled cool).

One of my beefs with albums for years was I'd buy an album, and then I'd find out I really only like two or three songs, and the rest were trash. So, I thought I'd love iTunes, and I do in a way, cuz I don't have to pay for all the trash.

BUT,

now I just don't have the same relationship with the music I like. I like it, instead of loving it.

Now, what I always think about when contemplating subjects like this, is how much IMAGINATION is involved in how we enjoy things. The albums I bought when I was a kid became personal, and I fell in love with them because of my imaginative experience as much as my "real" experience of the music.

So, I tend to think kids today probably have an imaginative experience of the music, but just within a different paradigm. We really won't know until they get older and start articulating it.

But, for us, the imaginative phase of the whole thing is gone. Now, it's just kind of the music and that's it. Once in awhile, I will be going through something (maybe the birth of one of my children, or some pain at work, or the death of my father) and I will once again fall in love with some piece of music because the imagination is connected to the experience of the music.

Sadly, that is a rarer and rarer experience.

Similarly, by the way, I believe that kids have an imaginative dimension to their video game playing. I don't believe the whole thing of them being zombies in front of the game console. I think there is a whole imaginative dimension going on there, but no one has come along to articulate that dimension.

I got a glimpse into it personally a few years ago when I fell in love with a video game called Twisted Metal Black. My nephew and I used to play that thing for hours. I had my PS2hooked up to my stereo system and we'd blast it (whenever my wife and daughter were gone) and we'd get totally wired into that bizarre and very dark world.

It was like a dream that you could sum up at will.

Just wait until this young generation coming up starts producing it's first writers and incorporating Pokemon and all the various characters into the imaginative dimension of their literature. I believe it will be amazing.