For all that we've gained, what have we lost?
Some of you may have seen this linked over on Stereogum, but it is definitely worth a read for the true music lover. It's a post from last year by Okkervil River frontman Will Sheff that really made me think about the way I consume and appreciate music.
READ: On File-Sharing, by Will Sheff
Originally posted on http://jound.com/okkervil/
Here are the paragraphs that made my brain whir and click:
The internet – with its glut not only of information but of misinformation, and of information that is only slightly correct, or only slightly incorrect – fills me with this same weird mixture of happiness and depression. I sometimes feel drowned in information, deadened by it. How many hundreds of bored hours have you spent mechanically poring through web pages not knowing what you're looking for, or knowing what you're looking for but not feeling satisfied when you find it? You hunger but you're not filled. Everything is freely available on the internet, and is accordingly made inestimably valuable and utterly value-less.
When I was a kid, I'd listen to the same records over and over and over again, as if I was under a spell. The record would end and I'd flip it over again, doing absolutely nothing, letting the music wash over me. My favorite record albums become like a totem for me, their big fat beautiful gatefolds worked as a shield against the loud, crashing, crushing world. I would have laid down my life and died in defense of a record like Tonight's the Night or Astral Weeks. I felt that those records had, in some ways, saved my life. These days, with all the choice in the world, it's hard for me find the attention span for a single album. I put my iPod on shuffle and skip impatiently to the next song before each one's over. I don't even know what I'm looking for.
Do read the rest of the reflection, and listen to over a dozen mp3s (not . . . full albums) of Okkervil River's music on their website.
I wouldn't trade the freedom to find and discover new music that the internet offers us now, but I definitely feel crushed by the miscellany and the weight of it all sometimes, with hardly a free moment to just sit and enjoy without the feeling the compulsion to shuffle and import and rip and rearrange.
I found myself near a foreign record player recently, surrounded by stacks of fantastically well-loved vinyl that fairly screamed of time well spent. Because of the slick and facile siren song of my iPod, where the only evidence of attention given is in the playcount on iTunes that ticks steadily upward as I add a song onto a new playlist with a press of a round white button, to some degree I feel that I lack that concentrated focus & discovery of deep beauty in my life right now.