Obvious statement: we all have musical tastes. For most of us, those tastes vary and change and adapt through a number of different channels, affected by what is probably a million things: what our friends listen to, what’s popular, what’s easy to get our hands on, what is a challenge to find, what our parents listen(ed) to, what sounds pleasing, what sounds we grew up with, and on and on and on.
But, it’s not very often that I think back about some of those lost records and albums that have, more or less, dropped by the wayside. And as I find myself scanning through my music library, I see some albums I’ve never listened to and, maybe worse, some that I’ve abandoned.
One thing that’s actually not even present in my library, though, and this is a shock, even to myself: no Sublime. Not a single track. Ok, for anyone who didn’t know me then, throughout middle school I was obsessed with Sublime and other eclectic mixes of ska, punk, reggae, dub, and hip-hop that was a direct result of the southern California culture clash. And the weird thing is, the reason Sublime isn’t in my library isn’t because I’m embarrassed to have it there (c’mon, I’ve got two Ashley Simpson albums in there; really, you think Sublime makes me blush?), or even that I find myself cringing at the thought of listening to it (I actually remember most of their non-self-titled album stuff rather fondly), but it’s just that, as I got older, my tastes moved away from Sublime (a relatively easy, simple, straightforward sound to get into) and further back into the complexity of music history (blues/folk/rock via Hendrix/Dylan/Beatles/Zep, etc) and then back forward through the re-writing of those histories via indie culture (from Pavement and into modern day hipsters and hip-hop and pop), I found myself not pining to hear those tracks again, the very music that made every other taste possible, with such a wide reach of styles.
And the item that made it all possible? The iPod, of course. Right as I was shifting away from the bands I began creating my first musical ideas around, and towards newer and older tunes alike, I was immersed in the digital music craze and, well, frankly, was so swamped in new things that I’ve to this day skipped adding them to the collection.
Still, Sublime made my appreciation for a variety of music possible. Their obvious and very easily approachable mix of nearly everything, in turn, made me open up to nearly everything, instilled in me the idea that anything can be good in its own respect and I credit their albums with setting up a foundation for a larger, multi-layered taste that I’m glad I have today–be it hip-hop or jazz or no-wave or alt-country or whatever the hell else is peeking around there.
And so, I sit here at a weird point, asking myself, what else have I abandoned?
From freshmen year at JMU, I know Iron & Wine and Mars Volta are getting nothing for spins. My Decemberists plays have leveled out significantly since the semesters of DJing at WZMB. And the question is, ultimately, what makes music worth keeping forever, what makes it timeless, or what binds it to a specific time in our lives? That whole idea of “I wonder what will be on the oldies station when I’m a parent with my kids in the car” comes to mind when thinking this over, and I don’t have any answers. I can just say when I like something and that only time tells, right?
And an interesting thing about all this, though, ultimately, is that, I don’t really hate any of the stuff that I’ve reduced the spins on. I don’t feel relieved that I don’t like a certain thing any more; in the case of the Mars Volta, for instance, it’s a direct result of being pushed away from their later records, their style stopped doing it for me (and less MV plays means less At the Drive-In, too). The same goes for Coheed & Cambria–their first album in particular was beautiful and I stuck it out for their second and third, but eventually I just kept getting hit over the head with them. And the Decemberists are in that boat, too–recent efforts (a rock opera, seriously? they get mad nasty credits for their set @ the Hollywood bowl, though) have pushed me away and it’s true that if an act I follow releases something new that I dig, I’m more likely to revisit older stuff. Or if they release anything at all, I might; The Medications disbanded, Thunderbirdsarenow! went through forty lineup changes, and as a result my plays dwindled.
But those early albums that I loved, I still love. I just listen to them less.
So the long-winded point of this whole thing: what’s your own lost record of musical history?