In his article, “The trouble with easy listening,” Steve Almond talks about how music, and true appreciation of it, has been devalued by the advent of iTunes, the iPod and an ever expanding access to every piece of music the heart desires, to be had whenever and wherever. He says, “The ease with which we can hear any song at any moment we want no matter where we are has diluted the very act of listening, rendering it just another channel on our ever-expanding dial of distractions.”
That’s a nice story, Grandpa.
Almond stops just short of outright blaming the very accessibility to music he bought and uses (as well as those associated with it and every customer of it) for what he perceives as his loss. The only thing that changed in Almond’s life relative to his appreciation of music was how he chose to enjoy it. The ways in which music delivery has grown has nothing to do with the choice one makes to listen to it from one’s couch or in one’s car.
On no level is music the same thing to every person, nor is any one way in which it is used better than another. The mobility of music Almond decries has been a lifesaver for a lot of people. For some it is an activity requiring solitude and without distraction, but for others it is absolutely a distraction – desperately sought and sorely needed. For still others, it is an integral part of physical therapy that rewires the brain. The how and where of it all is up to the person, and from there you get out of it what you put into it.
There are a lot of us, several years older than Almond, who have gladly taken advantage of and thoroughly enjoy all this access while maintaining our traditions of music appreciation. It hasn’t been a trade, as he’s described. It has been an addition. I didn’t forsake my music or my love for it when I upgraded from transistor radio to stereo to iPod. To hear my dad tell it, though, altering the circumstances under which you previously enjoyed music degrades the experience and the music itself. This is as inaccurate an assumption (about music and everyone else’s enjoyment of it) as someone saying music is “diluted” by mobility.
Good going, Almond. You sound like you were born in the late 30s.