Listening habits

I posted recently on Mastodon that, when I hear new material by a musician I like, I often have to give it a second listen before I can tell what I think about it. Good or bad, it lacks the familiar and nostalgic contours of their old stuff.

For music that doesn’t command an antecedent commitment, I probably won’t push through and listen enough to acquire an appreciation for it. I only listened to Taylor Swift enough to have opinions because I was thinking about her project of recording. And I only listened all the way through the new Beyoncé album because I was thinking about genre.1

Lots of things bounce off because I only give them half a listen. That’s always been true to an extent, but moreso these days. Being able to stream almost everything has the up side that I can make a deep dive into anything. But the down side of that same availability is that anything new-to-me has to compete for my attention against literally everything else. There is not even the inertia of changing the channel or swapping out the disc.

  1. The question of whether the new album is country came up as a philosophical question in my class Monday, but my students hadn’t listened to it. It felt very weird to be the person in the room who knew the most about Beyoncé. That was not on my bingo card for 2024.

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