Hackernoon logoWhat Are You Listening To? by@PaulCantor

What Are You Listening To?

Paul Cantor writes about what he's listening to in the digital world. He says he doesn't have a strong emotional connection to digital music. Paul Cantor: "I'm kind of listening to every song ever made. I’m favoring all music, every piece of music, in the history of music. That is what the internet, what the cloud, what streaming, hath wrought. It’s fucking nuts. I just hear it when I'm online, and then it kind of fades away."
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Paul Cantor

Writer, Editor and Music Producer

The other day someone asked me what music I’d been listening to. It happens every so often.

I thought about it for a moment. What had I been listening to?

That day alone I’d listened to Peter Gabriel’s third album, a few songs from the first Genesis album, James Brown’s Black Caesar soundtrack, a bunch of songs from the 1920’s and 30’s that I can’t even name since they were on an internet radio station that only plays that kind of music and I leave on in the house during the day, a couple tracks from Johnny Nash’s I Can See Clearly Now LP, a handful of new rap songs and more.

And yet I told the guy — gee, I don’t even know.

I mean, I kind of remembered listening to all this stuff, but then again, I also did not. It wasn’t like I was consciously sitting down and saying, you know what, let me listen to this Genesis album! I think I saw something online about Peter Gabriel, which lead me to look up Peter Gabriel’s music, which lead me to Genesis, and at some point I switched that off and went to something else. I can’t really even remember what it was. I just know it was something.

I suppose that years ago, when we all went to the store and bought records, sat with them for however long it took to get into them, we might have better remembered what it was we were listening to. But now, since most music is available in the cloud, and one never really has to do much to touch it, to feel it, to know it’s there — it’s all just one and the same.

I don’t really have a strong emotional connection with it. I mean, I know I like certain music. But liking it is sort of temporary, really. There are songs and artists I was into five years ago that I wouldn’t be into today — wouldn’t even remember being into at all — mostly because I have no way of knowing I was even into it, since I don’t have any real physical reminder.

That’s because with digital music, there is nothing actionable about it. There is no time or place to really connect it to. No strong memory associated. I just hear it when I’m online, and then it kind of fades away. In a way, I am listening to it, but I’m not sure I’m really hearing it. Which reminds me of this:

Naturally, there are some albums, songs and artists that I do favor, that I do find myself returning to. I’m sure I am really hearing them, even if, as I said, I don’t actually have anything physical, something memorable, to connect it to. I might have just really liked the music that much.

But what I really want to say when someone asks me what I’m listening to is — well, gee, I’m kind of listening to every song ever made. So many songs, so much music, that I can’t even tell you if it’s this album or that album I’m currently favoring. I’m favoring all music, every piece of music, in the history of music. That is what the internet, what the cloud, what streaming, hath wrought.

It’s fucking nuts.

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