So, you wanna hear my first-world problem? It’s this: there’s too much music in the world.
Not in the “I hate music and I don’t want to hear anymore!” sense. Not at all. For me, it’s that that there is SO MUCH music out there to discover that I am overwhelmed by it all.
I’ve had this conversation with both of my children at different times over the past few months. They agree, it’s maddening. I keep finding music that I like, some that I really love, in fact, and I want to hear more by that band. But at the same time, I know there are other bands and artists that I’ve yet to discover. There’s simply too much music with too much potential to be something I want to hear. Something I MUST hear!
It all started out innocently enough. After my initial Foo Fighters immersion, when I went looking for new things to listen to, I took a very cautious approach. One album a month. That’s pretty reasonable, I think.
Pragmatist that I am, I try to be logical about music acquisition. Normally, it works like this: if I discover a song that strikes my fancy, I’ll usually take a leap and buy the whole album that spawned it. I began this process with a song called “Madness” by a British band, Muse. I took the leap and downloaded their 2012 album, The 2nd Law. Loved it. Created an iTunes Wish List and added more Muse albums to it.
Then I discovered songs by Elbow and Civil Twilight, and bought one album from each band. I was so captivated by what I heard that I immediately downloaded a second album from both of them. Civil Twilight, a trio hailing from South Africa, is a relatively young band. They’ve only released two albums to date, so I got on their bandwagon (hah! I made a funny!) early. Elbow, an eclectic alternative band from Britain, has been around a bit longer. I had to put their other four albums on my Wish List.
I really tried to stick to my one-album-per-month limit. And it was REALLY difficult. So much out there to hear. Then my birthday rolled around and I bought a half-dozen CDs. All of which spawned a desire for follow-up albums that I wanted. The Wish List got longer. More Black Keys. More Green Day. The entire Jimi Hendrix catalog! I was drowning in a sea of musical possibilities.
And so it goes. Each month brings a new dilemma. I can’t decide what my next selection should be. What I’m discovering is that it gets harder to narrow down all these choices. Because, not only do I keep discovering new bands and artists, but I also keep discovering things I missed. It’s not just the bands and artists that are currently popular. Not just Frank Turner, or the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, or Alabama Shakes, or Florence + The Machine.
During the 90s, when I was busy being a young mom and listening to pop music and public radio, I completely missed out on the birth of the band that would one day transform my soul. And not only did I miss the Foo Fighters in their infancy, but I missed a lot of other bands who would be their contemporaries.
Pearl Jam. Smashing Pumpkins. Soundgarden. REM. Nirvana. Pixies. Nine Inch Nails. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
I missed all of them. I missed an entire fucking musical era!
How can I ever catch up?
Maybe I just need a plan.
I’m a list maker. I should start by making a list. Bands I want to explore, and artists I want to get to know, and a list of classics that I should dig into, just for the history. But where do I begin my list?
First, I can eliminate some things. I’m not a fan of Country, as I’ve said before. Don’t listen to much metal, although I won’t rule it out. But it can wait. Rock and Alternative are the main genres which captivate me now, and there’s so much there that I can probably safely limit my acquisitions to those areas for a good stretch. Maybe the next ten years?
I’m not a musician, but perhaps I can view my current musical conundrum as an opportunity to think like one. Any musician will tell you that he or she became a musician because of the influence of a particular song or album. In “Sound City”, Dave Grohl talks about hearing the song “Frankenstein” as a kid, and how its unique sound made an impact on him. “Frankenstein”, an instrumental rock classic by the Edgar Winter Group, circa 1972, was a favorite of mine as well.
So, wouldn’t it make sense that the music which influenced my band would quite possibly be music that I would enjoy as well? What bands did the Foo Fighters listen to when they were younger? What bands did they play in before they were Foo Fighters? Dave drummed for Nirvana, of course, but before that, he played in a band called Scream. Nate Mendel played bass for Sunny Day Real Estate. Taylor Hawkins was Alanis Morissette’s drummer. Note to self: check out Scream, Sunny Day Real Estate. I already know and love Alanis.
And all those 90s bands that were headlining shows when the Foos were getting started, the ones I slept through? I’ll make a list, listen to some samples, and start purchasing some of those grunge/alternative classics. I’ll start with the oldest albums. Or maybe the newest ones. Many of those bands are experiencing the same level of popularity and staying power that the Foo Fighters have. The fact that some are still recording and touring tells me they must be worth my time.
I need a list of classics, too. Hendrix, of course, but also Pink Floyd and some Zeppelin and the Doors. There’s a treasure trove of music from the 70s. I may have to approach alphabetically, just to keep from losing my mind.
Perhaps you have a suggestion. Is there something in your own rock music library that you think I can’t live without hearing? By all means, tell me about it.
Daylight’s burning. And there’s music to be heard. I’d better get busy.