Today saw an experiment in what I listen to at work.
Working in a record store, the option of listening to music is completely opposite from most jobs. In fact, most coworkers are surprised whenever they happen upon me not listening to music in the back (where I work mainly). For a music lover like me, it should be a dream job.
So today I took a step back from listening to music at work… well, mostly. I first listened to a recent interview with people who experienced the 1967 Detroit race riots. After this I tried out an episode of Stretch & Bobbito’s new NPR radio show, interviewing actor Mahershala Ali. In that case I was actually expecting at least some music (the hosts used to run a New York City hiphop radio show in the 90’s), and there was some, but it was mainly talking. The rest of the day saw long stretches of listening to nothing while working, and finally a bit of online mix listening.
To be honest, it was refreshing. I won’t claim my head was clearer, or my work easier. It simply felt good to take a break from constant sonic input.
As for tomorrow… I expect more of the same, really. I’m fine with either.
It makes me think back to my second-last year at university. During one semester I was consciously listening to a lot of new music, educating myself on classic artists and albums I’d always been curious about but never really explored (the Velvet Underground, David Bowie, Aphex Twin, etc.). Towards the end of this semester I began to feel… somehow tired. And not merely in terms of studying. Instead I felt… well, basically like I was on sensory overload. My focus was diminished, and my eyes felt tight around the outer sides, as if I had tunnel vision.
Ultimately I believe it was a combination of too much studying and too much music. Just far too much input altogether. But it did help to put the overall idea into perspective for me, and I’ve been conscious ever since about the potential for being burnt out even on music. The past few years have seen a sharp increase in new music for me, mainly via vinyl records. I’ve been lucky enough to stockpile new collections for cheap, and working in a record store allows me to listen to almost anything I want for free. But again, too much is too much. The old saying, “Too much of a good thing can be bad,” that applies to music too. “All things in moderation,” as well.
And so an idea has been floating around my head, especially as I look at just how much music I have in my collection. I’ve been considering what it would be like to step back from music, at least for a while. A friend of mine once abstained from music for a month, which is perhaps where I got the idea from. But for whatever reason I like the thought of no new music for one whole year. It would be an exercise in abstaining from listening to music, instead only creating my own music.
I’m not sure when I would do this, if at all. But the idea is definitely there. And it’s tempting.
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