A slow musical death by iPod

It happened slowly. I found myself logging into iTunes less and less, my playlists becoming stagnant and dull. In the car, I shuffled between the same few CDs or idly scanned a random selection of radio stations, choosing one and letting the same boring Top 40 sounds fill my Toyota.

I haven’t purchased music in forever — months, even. The last album I bought was The Script’s “Science and Faith,” and that was only because I was so in love with their last record. I never find myself cranking up a new tune or Googling the lyrics of a song I heard and loved, but can’t identify. Nothing interests me.

I didn’t even bring my iPod to England. When I wasn’t reading on the plane, I sat in silence.

Silence.

I’ve reached a point where I prefer silence over music.

There was a time when Music was my constant companion, a fellow and important traveler on the road of life. As a teen, Hanson, ‘NSYNC or Jimmy Eat World comprised the background noise of my days. Music was a way of bonding with friends and classmates; it was a simple way of launching a conversation with the cute guy from math class. As soon as I got a glimpse of a dude’s band T-shirt, I would scurry home and look up the object of his attention — then try to convince my parents I needed their album. I got into Dashboard Confessional that way. When I found out a crush liked a certain band and had a favorite song, I would find it and listen to it on repeat; it was like getting a glimpse into their soul.

Back when AOL Instant Messenger was still big (and Facebook didn’t exist), folks would use song lyrics in their profiles or “away” messages as a thinly-veiled way of conveying how they were feeling — and I still spot people doing that on Facebook, too. (Case in point, an acquaintance’s recent status update: “You find out who your friends are… somebody’s gonna drop everything, run out and crank up their car, hit the gas, get there fast and never stop to think, ‘What’s in it for me?'”)

It’s been a while since I was emotional enough to need to post song lyrics on a public profile rather than tell someone how I feel, but I can easily remember emotions that would stir up and provoke such an action. Music is a great way of confronting, expressing or dealing with our emotions. Songs appeal to us on a personal level because they resonate with us — for whatever reason. For personal reasons.

Not everyone listens to tunes because they want their perspectives altered or their minds blown. Maybe they’ve had a bad day, want to get a beer and just dance — and there’s nothing wrong with that.

But me? Well, I’m all about the lyrics.

And nothing appeals to me anymore.

So much of the music I’ve loved in the past — like Death Cab For Cutie, say — was because it clicked with me at a specific point in my life. The Killers are that way, too; though I love them intensely, listening to their songs brings me back to a time when I was nursing a heartbreak, in a period of transition and desperately seeking direction and support.

I don’t feel that way anymore.

Listening to Death Cab now just makes my stomach flip uncomfortably, remembering the times I listened to “We Looked Like Giants” until I thought my ears would bleed. I still listen to The Fray, The Killers and John Mayer, my main man, but it just . . . isn’t the same. Putting my iPod on shuffle, I find myself constantly scrolling through songs without settling on a single one. Then I give up and toss the thing back in my purse, annoyed that I ever bothered to listen to anything at all.

I’m in a total music rut.

I don’t want to think that I’ve completely lost my mojo when it comes to tunes, because I’ll be honest: I think being completely out of touch with the music scene is a sure sign of aging, and I want to still be hip. I can’t accept that my best years are behind me and that, at 25, I’m doomed to live a life void of anything contemporary. I don’t want to be the woman so stuck in the ’00s that she can’t pronounce “Bieber” or recognize a new artist — however silly — on sight.

I don’t want to be old.

So hit me with your best shot, friends: what music are you listening to now or can’t live without? It doesn’t have to be something current — just something new to me. I’ve heard good things about Mumford & Sons but haven’t bothered to check them out. Who am I missing?

Save me from a slow death by iPod. Send me some musical inspiration — I’ll take anything.

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51 thoughts on “A slow musical death by iPod

  1. I think everyone goes through phases like these. I’ve gone through phases where I can’t listen to music, can’t read, can’t write, and they seem to trade off. The best way to pull yourself out, you’re right, is to find something new.
    I listen to a lot of Laura Marling, Regina Spektor, Fleet Foxes, Noah and The Whale…Amanda Palmer, Tegan and Sara, Feist. That’s why I enjoy ‘shuffle’ so much. I’ll hear songs I love, and then songs I forgot I loved, and the tables will turn.

    • I totally forgot about Fleet Foxes! Good choice! I also listen to a lot of Regina Spektor, though I haven’t LOVED all her new stuff.

    • Thanks for all the suggestions, Robby — love it! And with both you and Lu calling my attention to Fleet Foxes, I’ll be sure to put them at the top of the list.

      “Shuffle” is awesome — and usually does a great job of reminding me of songs I once adored more than anything. Can’t wait to find some new stuff!

  2. I’m the same way. I’ve been using Pandora to discover new music and it’s been nice, but at the same time, I just find myself listening to the same things over and over again. Lately what I’ve been really into is Bon Iver (and have been for a few years), Mumford & Sons, Manchester Orchestra (especially the song Simple Math), Two Door Cinema Club, The Naked & Famous, Young the Giant. I’m also really excited by the new Danger Mouse project with Daniele Luppi, Norah Jones and Jack White. I’ve only heard the one song with Jack White, but I LOVE it. If any of the other songs are like “Two Against One”, especially with Norah Jones’s voice… gah. I really can’t wait to hear more. I really need to hear some more women, though. This list is very heavy on the men. I have my female artists that I’ll always love, but I’m interested in what’s new out there (other than Florence & The Machine… I love her, but I already know about her! I want new people!). I’m also digging on a lot of the new bands that have men and women singing, like The XX & The Airborne Toxic Event (who are a hit or miss band. I like some of their songs, but not others). Also, if you like Sufjan Stevens at all, his album from last year was out of this world good. And if you like songs in Spanish, Julieta Venegas is always good! I love her.

    • YAY — thanks for all the fabulous suggestions, Lu! I’ll be raiding your list soon for new voices to download. I’m a huge fan of The XX and am excited to hear Bon Iver. Thanks so much!

  3. I have been on an Adele kick for the past month or so, and not just her song”Rolling in the Deep” (which has been so over played on the radio I can no longer listen to it), but her previous album as well as the new one. Mumford is also definitely worth listening to if you haven’t heard them. Music seems to be taking a turn back in time with the folksy and blues sounds with groups like that, which is kind of fun and totally different than the pop music of yesteryear.

    • I’m with you on “Rolling In The Deep,” Emily (and what the heck does that even mean, anyway?)! But I did really like Adele’s first album. I’ve been meaning to preview a few tracks from the new one — she has such a great voice!

      Mumford & Sons is going on the ol’ “to be listened to” list, then! And you’re right: there does seem to be a return to very folksy and more “traditional” sounds lately. Guess we’ve exhausted all the Ke$ha like tunes for the moment (and what a relief).

  4. I go through these phases, but I remain steadfast in believing that I will always be a music nut. My “problem” (not really a problem) is that I’m always tuned into audiobooks. But just the other day, Michele at My Books, My Life was asking for recommendations of good female artists, which inspired me to actually listen to music on my elliptical versus read, and it was great. I tend to not to be very good with new groups, but still obsess over the old ones.

    So don’t throw in the towel Meg. You will come back to it. It will be there when you need it!

    • Thanks Sandy — I’m sure you’re right! I’ve actually been meaning to put some audiobooks on my iPod for when I go to the gym. Lately I’ve been listening to the same tired Jimmy Eat World playlist during my workouts and I am so done with that.

  5. I was thinking the same thing – being out of the music scene is a sign of being old. I prefer silence and don’t turn on the TV or music unless there’s something that I specifically want to see/hear and I wasn’t always this way. The older I get the more background noise bothers me.

    • Background noise bothers me too, Kathy! I find myself avoiding restaurants I know to be “loud” and going around silencing TVs that no one is watching (and that saves money, too!). It’s good to calm down and let quiet fill the space sometimes.

  6. Oh gosh, I’m just like Bermudaonion!! I really do prefer silence to music and we don’t even have anything to play music out loud with at home. It’s iPod or Laptop or nothing. And I never, ever choose to listen to music. Hey, vlogs are a bit too much for me already! 🙂

    I did used to play music a lot and if we’d had iPods or similar when I was your age, I would have been “plugged in” all the time, too! But no more…

    • Sometimes silence is good, I think — and sometimes I just want to crank up some music and relax! As we get older, I think it’s just hard to find something we “relate” to as intensely as we did when we were young… or maybe that’s just me. I’m getting old and jaded. 🙂

  7. Vampire Weekend, Arcade Fire, Florence + The Machine are some of my recent favourites. We are currently at the mercy of a two-year-old music tyrant. For a while his favourite CD was the self-titled Vampire Weekend one, which is why it’s also on my favourites list!

    • Your two-year-old has excellent taste — Vampire Weekend is good stuff! I have a coworker who is decidedly cooler than I am and let me borrow their CD — along with The Black Keys, which I also enjoyed. Arcade Fire is a band I’ve heard a lot about lately and Florence + The Machine is in that camp, too — thanks for the suggestions!

  8. I’m definitely all about the lyrics, too, more than the music, and my favorites at the moment are Regina Spektor, Brooke Fraser, A Fine Frenzy, and Owl City… though I’ve been listening to more classical lately.

    • I’ve never heard of Brooke or A Fine Frenzy — thanks for the suggestions, Abby! Regina Spektor and Owl City are great — that’s definitely in the vein of my musical taste!

  9. I’m also all about the lyrics, something that seemed to have fallen out of fashion about a decade ago. I’m also a shuffle girl, so I listen to a lot of stuff at the same time. These are some of the bands that have made me press repeat lately: Kings of Leon, Beirut, The Temper Trap, The Killers, Editors and the soundtrack of (500) Days of Summer. It’s been great to see everyone else’s playlists!

    • We’re kindred spirits, Alex! I adore The Temper Trap (“Sweet Disposition” is just… gah. The greatest song ever) and was introduced to them via the “(500) Days of Summer” soundtrack. And what a great film!

      Going to look up some of your other suggestions — and always nice to find another Killers fan. 🙂 I’ve had “Day & Age” in my car for the past few days… “Neon Tiger” is a current favorite.

  10. This is so weird. I just posted yesterday on my blog asking everybody for music suggestions because I have the opposite problem: I’m in a music boom and want more, more, more. Lately I’m listening to Feist and Fleetwood Mac, studying the classic Irving Berlin standards for a current writing project, and listening to Linda Eder’s beautiful voice. When I’m into lyrics…and I’m almost always into lyrics..I go for the folk singers: Joni Mitchell and Dar Williams. And Bob Dylan. (I’m certainly not contemporary…)

    • My parents are huge Fleetwood Mac fans, Melissa, and I actually started listening to “Rumours” again over the weekend! You can’t beat “The Chain” — classic. Thanks for the other suggestions, too — Joni Mitchell is someone I definitely check out!

    • That’s no worries, Rebecca — I think we need silence in our lives, too! I’ve just never been comfortable with it, I suppose. But I’m getting there.

  11. I was going to say Mumford & Sons! Lol. Matt and I have tickets to see them this summer – so excited. 🙂 They pump me up. I’ve also started listening to Adele lately, I think you’d like her. P.S. Aren’t you 25, or did I lose a year somewhere along the way? xoxo

    • Oh, I’m totally 25, Erin — I think I caught that the same time you did! Definitely not going to jump the gun with my age before I have to.

      Yay for Mumford & Sons! I have Adele’s older record, but not the new one. Going to take your advice (and Emily’s!) and check it out soon!

  12. I’ll echo everyone else and say Mumford and Sons are a must. I’m also really loving Adele’s new album, Sugarland (if you like country), The Smiths (for that old-school vibe), The New Pornographers and The Flaming Lips.

  13. I was going to post a similar post this week – my iPod has gotten old and lame on me!

    Right now I’m loving Neon Lights by Natasha Bedingfield and I’m actually going to buy her whole album cause there’s another great song on it. I have such a girlcrush on her.

  14. I was in a musical rut until I started listening to Pandora every day. I’ve discovered a lot of great music that I wouldn’t have otherwise. Right now I’m listening to a lot of Band of Horses, Matt & Kim, Scissor Sisters (an old fave, but I’ve discovered some of their new stuff through Pandora) Passion Pit, Kate Nash, Josh Pyke…I could go on but I’ll leave it there. 🙂

  15. I’d have to say Mumford & Sons is a great pick up. I’m pretty pleased with their whole album. I also listen to a lot of electronic music, and I know most people aren’t into that. I agree with Tara, Pandora is a great way to get back into music and find new stuff. The Sucker Punch soundtrack has been on repeat for a while on my iTunes, so you might try that too. 🙂

  16. I’m relieved to know I’m not alone. I usually prefer silence over television and audio books on the iPod over music. And when I do listen to music it’s usually alternative or pop music that was popular 10 or more years ago or jazz. Eeeek. If someone tells me I’m getting old, they’re right!

  17. I’ve been feeling this problem too. My iTunes just doesn’t get as much play as it did in college, and the rate at which I discover new music has dropped to almost nonexistence.

    I’m gonna reiterate, MUMFORD & SONS, though I don’t love the whole album; I like the fast songs. Also Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes. They have a bit of a hipster reputation and they’re essentially a bunch of hippies, but AWESOME hippies. You may of heard their most famous song, “Home,” which was big last summer. Their music is just feel-good and happy. The Civil Wars = also a good new country/soul/Americana band. Their current song “Barton Hollow” is great.

    As for more chill music, my go-to albums while cooking or reading are Madeleine Peyroux’s Careless Love and Corinne Bailey Rae’s The Sea (much better than her debut, in my opinion).

  18. I’m in love w/Mumford–and their lyrics are great (bonus!) I also really love The Weepies: mellow, happy, great lyrics. I’ve been listening to Two Door Cinema Club, Local Natives, Broken Social Scene and The National in my more upbeat moments, and Noah&the Whale, Fanfarlo, Freelance Whales and EastMountainSouth when I’m feeling a little quieter. Also worth checking out: Blind Pilot, Ingrid Michaelson, Sea Wolf, Over the Rhine.

    I totally go through phases where there is no music that fits me. And I hear you about the music that takes you back to a particular time in life! Death Cab’s Transatlanticism is totally like that for me.

  19. I can live with background noise (I have kids and a day care background noise is a given) but boy do I love silence. I guess it is a sign of age. If I’m in the car alone I rarely have on music. Maybe a audio-book but not much music these days. Sheesh, I forgot I was getting old. (Isn’t that a sign of getting old?)

  20. I only use iTunes to buy crap for the gym (Ke$ha and other pop-crap singles) and GLEE soundtracks. Otherwise, I’m a classical/classical cross-over CD buyer. I just purchased Linda Eder’s new album, have Josh Groban’s new album in the car, and Shotakovich’s Suite for Jazz Orchestra on repeat on the laptop.

    And I bought a piano – I can play all the Beethoven and Chopin I want 🙂

  21. Ingrid Michaelson’s cd “Everybody” is wonderful as is Mat Kearney’s “City of Black and White”

    It seems we have similar musical interests…as I saw ‘n sync 5 times in concert when I was younger…yikes!

  22. ok – i’m going to throw a different music genre in there… how about some country? check out darius rucker (aka hootie from hootie & the blowfish), brad paisley, tim mcgraw, lady a, sugarland… i used to be a top 40s girl and in the last few years i barely listen to that anymore and i’ve turned country.

    but i agree on the mumford&sons as well!

  23. Wonderful thing about an iPod is the ability to listen to so many different things. I have playlists for different moods…classical is always a good place to start.
    Grooveshark is like Pandora, but not as commercialized…and the wonderful thing about GrooveShark is that you can play the ACTUAL song, then hit the radio button, to get new ideas!
    One person that I did not see, whom I like better than Regina Spektor is Imogen Heap. Hauntingly beautiful voice, better sound quality and fabulous lyrics.
    Hope it helps! Music is the rhythm of our soul!

  24. Hi, Meg!
    I know how you feel when it comes to music breaks. My time with music depends very much on my mood, and whether I like to cut myself off from the world or participate in it. Sometimes my thoughts can unfold so much better when I listen to music, and both melody and lyrics can trigger many ideas for my writing.
    I am not sure what kind of music you prefer, but I would just like to mention, if you have not sworn off Death Cab for Cutie forever, that they will release a new album by the end of May (you might know this already, but if not, here is a heads up). Other favourites are Belle and Sebastian, (right now their album Write About Love from 2010), The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Eva & The Heartmaker (Norwegian band), Iron & Wine (Flightless Bird, American Mouth is one of my favourite songs), Lykke Li (Swedish artist). I just discovered (through my brother) a band called The Head And The Heart. It sounds promising!
    Some bands/artists that I listen to sporadically: Antony and The Johnsons, Jose Gonzales, The Smiths, Leonard Cohen (try his Hallelujah or So long Marianne), Sufjan Stevens, Kings of Convenience, Sondre Lerche, Susanne Sundfør (Walls and The Brothel), Tom McRae, Ingrid Olava, Damien Rice (9 crimes and Elephant), Rumer (Slow and Blackbird), Robyn, Röyksopp, Maria Mena , Keane and Oasis. Oh..The Beatles!
    Sometimes I find it peaceful not to understand the lyrics. Then I can concentrate on the melody, harmonies and make up my own story to the music. So, if you want to try something new where you do not understand the lyrics, check out: Raymond & Maria (very good Swedish band), Sigur Ros (very good Icelandic band), Melissa Horn (Swedish artist). If you like instrumental, Yiruma is a very good pianist from Japan. His songs are so soothing and gentle, definitely worth a try.
    If you like film music, the film “The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain” (Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain) has a great soundtrack with a real French twist (makes you want to go to Paris)!
    Sorry, I could go on forever! Hope you find something to listen to…and youtube is a good way to check out a song or two before you buy it, though I guess you already know that 🙂

    Best of luck on your pursuit of music!

    Bente

  25. This post totally resonates with me–and as a result, I have no musical recommendations for you. 🙂 I think I’ll be stealing some of the other commenters’, though!

  26. Almost every artist I was going to suggest has been mentioned. With the exception of Muse and Duran Duran (my personal favorite). The new Duran Duran CD is called ‘All You Need Is Now’ and it is amazing!

  27. Adding my two cents to the fray…

    I was also in a musical rut lately, and in addition to posting a call-out like this on my blog, I started picking up those iTunes download cards from Starbucks. Some of the tunes have been duds, sure, but I’ve also found some real gems. Like “We Don’t Eat” by James Vincent McMorrow (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kR3HRMO7nZg) and “Beautiful Trash” by Lanu (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEzjlRrdGFQ).

    Other songs/bands I’ve been listening to lots lately:
    “Don’t Come Easy” by Matt Wertz (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5e_9uvYItpw)
    “Shoelaces” by The Submarines (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqSMOuRLnDc)
    “Squealing Pigs” by Admiral Fallow (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aB4ZwKaW9kY)
    “Cold Wind” by Joshua Hyslop (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=doIla-UUF5g)

    And of course… Jimmy Eat World’s Invented album 🙂 I love the title track so very much.

  28. Have you heard Lissie? I think you might like her a lot. Her whole album (Catching a Tiger) is really great, but her song “When I’m Alone” is a great introduction:

    Happy listening.

  29. Hey, Meg! I’m in a similar situation, so I’ve deferred to my dad’s oldies-but-goodies: Elton John, Billy Joel, Jackson Browne, The Temptations, etc. I’m in full agreement with you about lyrical quality. I’ll go ahead and echo previous comments about Vampire Weekend and Fleet Foxes. (Actually, I only have one Fleet Foxes song, but I’ve been known to listen to it on repeat 5+ times in a row…)

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