I had a couple years where I wasn’t listening to as much music as I’d have probably liked to. It’s weird, admitting that, seeing as how I write about music and have nominally worked in and around the record business for my entire adult life. But, I don’t know, I guess I turned a certain age and life turned into something else; my interests broadened, I suppose, and with that, what I wanted to spend my time on. It wasn’t that I wasn’t listening, but I wasn’t doing that kind of deep listening, really paying attention. The music was on, it was just on in the background.

For a while, I felt guilty about this, seeing as how I worked in music and new music was coming out virtually every second. Certainly, I listened to some of it, tried to keep up as best I could. But no matter what I did, there was only so much time in the day and it wasn’t like I was 15-years-old. I had a life! So I would listen when I got a chance, as there was nothing really riding on me having listened or not listened, and that felt fine. Still, something wasn’t connecting. The run-up to the 2016 election was happening, the country felt as if it were splintering more than it already was, and every day there was a new crisis to care about.

Important as it was, that stuff made me miserable. And at a certain point I realized — I don’t want to deal with this shit! I mean, when I think back on my life, there is enough trauma and pain to fill a book, or at the very least waste a few hours of a therapist’s time. There really is and maybe one day I’ll get to that. But that’s baggage I’m already carrying, and I’m not really looking to carry someone else’s. I mean, a person has their limits.

About a year ago I noticed I was tuning out the news. Not completely but certainly more than I had been. Instead, I was listening to a lot of music. Almost without thinking, I’d breeze through a few albums in a day. It wasn’t music I was trying to keep up with — not necessarily popular music, so to speak, although there was plenty of that. It was just whatever music I woke up wanting to hear. A lot of times, weirdly, it was jazz, which made me feel sort of old and almost as if I were living in another century. I had always listened to jazz, but never with any real determination. I found that at a time when life was radically changing, bringing with it all kinds of anxiety, jazz was really soothing. I enjoyed it, yes, but mostly it calmed me down.

Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of classical music, another genre — expansive as it is — which I’ve always listened to, but again, without any real determination. Oh, I might have known this piece or that, some composer or another, but I never quite enjoyed it as I am these days. Before, it always felt as if I were trying to listen to it, not really getting it, so to speak. But there’s a complexity to classical music that really just does not exist in any contemporary style of music. The melodies and rhythms always changing, no one second is the same as another. At a time when I’m sure I have adult onset-ADD, this seems like the only kind of music that really holds my interest.

I’m sure at some point in the future, I’ll move on from classical to something else, just as I moved into jazz from something else before that. In life, as in art, you have periods, brief moments of time when you are into one thing or another, and that sort of defines or sums up how you were feeling then. I can remember, in my mid-twenties, being into dance music, after that classic rock and other stuff. What’s important, I think, is to always be evolving, to make sure you aren’t stagnant. You must always be looking for some new shit, even if that new shit is some old shit.

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Wrote for the New York Times, New York Magazine, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Vice, Fader, Vibe, XXL, MTV News, many other places.

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