I’ve been thinking recently about how the way I listen to music now is much different than the way I have listened to music in the past. It’s both a function of how the digital age has changed the way in which I access music as well as changes in when and how I consume music. When reading the music reviews from the fabulous Mark Blankenship, I notice he often refers to the lyrics of the songs he’s writing about, which made me realize that I rarely pay attention in any real way to the lyrics of the songs I listen to anymore.
That was not always the case. I used to be one of those people who came home with my cassettes (yes I’m old) or CDs, pulled out the liner notes and listened to the whole album through several times while singing along. Thus I knew a lot of lyrics to songs and really paid attention to them. I remember a certain point in time where my friend and I would make each subject line on an email to each other the lyric from a song that expressed whatever was about to be said in the email. There is no way I could do that now at least not with any music from the past decade. Both the lyrics and the music in a song used to be equally important to me when falling in love with a song.
Now when I fall in love with song it’s almost always based on the music alone. I still buy a surprising number of albums in this digital age, but they of course don’t come with liner notes. I am a very visual person when it comes to words so without having the lyrics in front of me to actually see them, I don’t tend to internalize them. Even if I had the liner notes, I still don’t think I would be able to spend that much time pouring over the lyrics. Now that I’m married I rarely have alone time in my house, and just don’t have the time to sit around listening to an album while not also being engaged in some other activity. This of course distracts from concentrating on the lyrics. For the most part I do most of my music listening while I’m at work, and there I am obviously doing other stuff so I’m not paying attention to the lyrics but do pick up on the music in a song. I still obviously love going to concerts, but I am sadly no longer one of those people who can sing along with all the songs because I no longer know the lyrics.
I just no longer listen to music the way I once did. Sometimes I miss it, but I now value songs in a much different way than I once did. It’s not a bad thing, but just something I was thinking about and felt like sharing.