During the latter half of the noughties, I entered my teenage years and, much like a good proportion of angsty youths, I got obsessively into rock music. And metal. And punk. I got infatuated with anything that featured throat-splitting vocals and down-tuned guitars. My life became a montage of angry sounding music that was made between the years of 1990 and 2005.
Looking back, I remember numerous occasions in which I would be blasting Korn from my Sony Ericsson – or perhaps trying to play along to ‘Welcome To The Jungle’ in my room – and my parents or grandparents would roll their eyes and explain that this nonsense – this incoherent nonsense – was so inferior to the music they grew up with. They would explain that I should step away from papa_roach.mp3 and maybe try a bit of Neil Diamond. As a result, throughout my teenage years, I was in a perpetual state of disbelief that these people would be so closed-minded; amazed that they could not see the value of exploring genres with such unique thematic perspective and sonic flavour.
And in parallel with all of this I would – oblivious to the existence of any irony – scoff at, and completely dismiss any new music or genres that came after, perhaps, Blink-182. “Why would I?” I told myself. “It’s manufactured nonsense. There’s no real instruments. Music can only be made with real instruments. They’re all just the same as Justin Bieber, or One Direction – none of them are original and music has gone to shit”.
Looking back, this may very well be the biggest regret of my youth. As a person who sincerely believes that music is one of the most important and pure pleasures that can be experienced in life, I missed out on being present in and a part of so many amazing cultural moments. Some of the music that makes me feel things more than anything else these days is music that I dismissed for no good reason as a youth, grouping it with pop music that I rightly considered trash. I missed a whole era of hip hop – Childish Gambino and Kendrick Lamar. I missed the story and cultural sensation of grime, missing the opportunity to be present in the small venues that we now see as the crucibles that formed todays legends. I was so caught up in a feeling of nostalgia for music that had passed, getting angry and argumentative about articles that proclaimed “rock is dead”.
Music changes with context, reflecting the mood and unique societal circumstances of a point in history that made it so popular. Anyone that was forged in their youth during this time will form unique bonds with it, and relate to it immediately, understanding the itch that it was scratching in a way that other people will not be able to. It creates a fondness in our minds that forms the baseline for our relationship with music. It’s easy to fall into this pattern of laying dormant in the comfort of music released before we graduated high school.
This mirrors a larger problem of nostalgia in the greater context of life: the fetishisation of the past. People miss out on the beauty of the present complaining that life isn’t as good as it used to be; yearning for their high school glory days, their first year at university, or hanging onto the high of a past relationship: all the while not appreciating the parts of now that they’ll be nostalgic for in five years time. In a broader sense, people latch onto conservative political movements that promise a return to the comfort of the good old days, when you could leave your door unlocked and casually racist strangers did not trigger the warranted disapproval of today.
But the truth is, nothing can ever be the way that things used to be. Things will always change, and finding happiness in life will always lie in being able to be present in a moment.
It will always be amazing to go to rock and metal clubs, and break my voice while poorly screaming along to Slipknot classics. But it’s so important to move with the times and not get stuck in the nostalgia of youth. Try an EDM playlist on Spotify. Accept that your band isn’t going to get big doing that Mark Hoppus impression. Realise it doesn’t matter when Kerrang reports on Post Malone. Move with the times, and don’t get caught up regretting the fact you never got to see your new favourite band at the bar next to your house before they were big.
Image: Alexwiths via Pixabay
2 replies on “Don’t Let Nostalgia Ruin Your Music… Or Your Life”
Thanks for writing Michael! Always great to engage in dialogue in these issues and always great to hear from a fan!