It’s so strange to me how close music is to time travel. When I started to fall out of love with new music ten years ago, I worried how I would even form new memories. Life is the bone, songs are the marrow.
While I write these words I’m listening to the claustrophobic French lounge pop of Stereolab’s Miss Modular. I’m on a train, as always. I am 43 years old, in a tunnel carved through the chalk of the Downs.
But with this song I’m never really here. Instead I’m transported back to the loneliness of 2am in 2003. I am playing Grand Theft Auto in a cold conservatory.
The radio station within the game could be tuned to the mp3s in a particular folder, so my aimless drive around a sandbox approximation of New York City swung with a certain sophistication quite out of character with all the virtual pedestrians I was running over.
Falling out of music crept up on me, just as falling out of love does. Songs were everywhere, then they were relegated to the infinity of background streaming, and of algorithmic recommendations for things I have already experienced.
I am not passive; I am complicit in this process. For years, I boycotted Spotify, because of the financial ruin it was bringing on artists, friends and acquaintances.
Now, I pay my ten pounds a month like a good boy. My most listened tracks are from a coffee shop background noise playlist I play to block out the distraction of being in a real coffee shop.
The fading of music from my life has coincided with my playing, singing and writing more music of my own.
I don’t know what any of this means.
But I am trying to make more memorable use of the time I have available to me.
And there are no memories without stories and there are no memories without songs.