I'm afraid so. I seem to have hit that point in my blogging career where my old stuff seems much better than anything I can come up with today. It's either that or my Muse is AWOL again. Prolly both.
It's stuck, we are.
It's stuck, we are.
Sometime right around or just before my 50th birthday I made a vow to myself, on the order of "I'll never get stuck in the past… at least where music is concerned." This "getting stuck" phenomenon is something I had noticed quite a long time ago, beginning in my mid-30s or so. My peers and contemporaries seemed to be stuck in the '50s or '60s and most had a tendency to listen to those damned Oldies stations that played lotsa doo-wop, Motown, and Elvis songs at the time… not that there's anything inherently wrong with that music — I love it to death and have a LOT of it — but as a steady diet? No. Not us. Not ever. We wanted to keep up, keep current, and keep discovering new stuff. And for the most part we managed to do just that.
It was sorta easy to keep up when I was that young, given I was living in London during my mid-30s (which had the BEST frickin' music scene in the early '80s, bar none), and continued to live in major metropolitan areas when I returned to the US of A. Even Oklahoma City… where I first landed after living in London… had a great college radio station out of Norman and at least one or two "progressive rock" stations. Moving right along… I was in Dee-troit as I approached my 50th birthday and while you may not think of Detroit as a musical hot bed it did have its share of progressive radio stations and a decent club scene. It was pretty easy to keep current and the music was also pretty danged good at the time… think REM, Soul Asylum, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Cranberries, yadda, yadda… and hip-hop wasn't dominant quite yet, either. Ascendant, yes, but not dominant. We probably added four or five CDs to our music collection each month and went to many more than a few concerts, as well.
So… we remained "unstuck" through the mid-'90s and a lil bit beyond. I remember quite well when my musical life took a turn for the worse: it was in 1999 and the aftermath of The Great Divorce Crisis. I went off pop music entirely at that time and moved to jazz, country, and classical. I simply couldn't stand to listen to pop (be it current or from the near-past) and nearly all of my music collection: too damned many memories, too much pain. We diversified our tastes and managed to remain "unstuck" as it were, given there was all this great music I was discovering (or rediscovering) for the first time. That went on for about five or six years… or so. And then we slowly but surely began to return to our pop music collection and what was once familiar and comforting.
And here we are today, and the strangest thing has happened: I'm stuck. I noticed I'm mostly listening to Pandora these days, and the stations I've defined are all from my past: Van Morrison. Joni Mitchell. Neil Young. Rolling Stones. Santana. J.J. Cale. Roxy Music. James Brown. Warren Zevon. Dylan. (There are more, but they're all in the same vein.) And most recently: The Beatles, driven by my acquisition of the first two re-mastered albums. I racked my brain and tried to come up with new artists I've bought over the last two years and can only think of a few: Jet, Norah Jones, and Diana Krall (who isn't really new… just new to me). We are well and truly stuck.
So… perhaps getting stuck in the past was inevitable but I had always hoped it wouldn't be so. Dang. I hate it when this happens.
That's from two and a half years ago. We're not so much musically stuck these days, but we ARE more into "roots" music. My last three or four musical purchases have been recordings from old bluesmen, like a five-CD set of old Lightnin' Hopkins recordings and an RL Burnside "early recordings" CD, just to name two (illustrated at right). I don't consider that bein' stuck... it's more like filling massive holes in the collection and that effort is on-going, as we speak.
Our Pandora experience has changed a lot over the last two and a half years, as well. Yeah, we still have all those '60s and '70s stations defined, but we've added a few new ones. So I suppose my old complaint ain't quite what it seems. We're still pretty well-rounded, if not bleeding edge.