Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I'm not the cat I used to be, I got a kid, I'm 33, baby

I have two kids and am a bit older than 33, but Chrissie Hynde had a point in "Middle of the Road."

I have recently had reason to reflect on the diminished importance music is playing in my life. I just got back in touch with a friend I made right after college when I was often going to two concerts a week and could have almost had my mail forwarded to the Khyber. We were reminiscing about '80s British post-punk (the Fall, Gang of Four, the Wedding Present, the Mekons), and he commented that the music of his youth resonates with him more than anything current because it is the music of his youth. Then I was completing a survey from nin.com, which was only sent to me because I bought tickets at the last minute for a subsequently postponed Nine Inch Nails show, and many of the questions involved online resources for obtaining and finding out about music. I use them very little, not because I'm opposed to technology or don't like music, but because I just don't have the time to invest in them. Most of the effort I put into discovering new music lately has been for work, keeping up with what's current to purchase it for a library or review it for other librarians.

The music of your youth has two things going for it. When the world is still new to you, emotions are heightened by the lack of experience. To use a parenting example, my kids sobbed when their helium balloon popped, but I've had enough burst balloons in my life, both literal and metaphorical, to not be fazed. And when you are young and have fewer responsibilities, you're left with plenty of time to wallow in your misery or bask in your joy. Music escalate those already-volatile feelings.

Birth, School, Work, Death by the Godfathers made a huge impact on me because it was released when I was going through a tumultuous transition from school to work, about to graduate from college and daunted by the difficult prospect of finding meaningful work, not just earning a paycheck. No one writes songs about the current woes in my life, mainly that my otherwise adorable kids make me nuts at times, and I am daunted by the difficult prospect of finding meaningful work that fits with the demands of parenthood. Even if someone did record a song along those lines, I'd probably be too overwhelmed by the current demands of my day-to-day existence to discover it, let alone have it become a central part of my life the way Birth, School, Work, Death did. I'm still keeping up on music more than the average 42-year-old suburban mom, but I've accepted that I'll never return to the devotion I had as a 22-year-old.