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  • Writer's picturepamradtkerussell

Giving up Old Music in Search of a New Life

My music tastes stagnated when I was in my 20s. For the last 30 years I’ve been listening to versions of the same things: New Orleans music of all kinds, a mix of Indigo Girls, REM, Sheryl Crow, and sentimental 70s and 80s favorites.

Lame, right?

I’ve been to dozens of music festivals and shows over the years. It was what my soon-to-be-ex and I did. I loved it and still love it.

But the same songs played on repetition on my iPhone. And the radio stations seemed to play the same songs.

A couple of years ago, I discovered Lizzo (and that’s a separate post unto itself), but I simply cycled her into what I was already listening to. I was stuck. I rarely heard new music.

By the time I reached my late 40s, the songs of my childhood were everywhere—showing up in commercials and elevators. It seemed like society endorsed my choices, so why change?

Some friends would mention concerts they were going to, like Fleet Foxes or Arctic Monkeys, but I had never heard of them, and I was closed off to the very idea that a band called “Arctic Monkeys” could even be good.

It is a sure sign of aging to lose touch with new music being produced. I knew this, but I didn’t know where to go, or what to listen to.

But about six weeks ago, a dear friend of mine made me a 7-hour Spotify playlist with music new to

me to help me expand my tastes.

It was a mind blowing.

I listened to a mix of songs by Metronomy, M.I.A., Father John Misty, The Black Keys, Little Dragon, Tame Impala, DJ Shadow, Frank Ocean, and yes Fleet Foxes, Arctic Monkeys and even Tropical Fuck Storm, and I felt as if parts of my brain were opening up. Like I could suddenly understand another language. I could almost feel long blocked neural pathways opening up. Life itself became brighter.

To make things even sweeter, I was listening to the playlist in the car with my 14- and 17-year-old daughters. Their eyes got big when their Mom was, for once, listening to music they actually liked and knew.

Then, they began sharing their music with me. Not the ABBA and Queen they grew up with in our house, but Sudan Archives, Courtney Barnett, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Princess Nokia.

It was a moment of connection and expansion.

Turns out I like rap and hip hop. I like songs that tell a story. I like songs, on the whole, that are more upbeat than not.

When I listen to “Nobody Speak” by DJ Shadow, it gives me a little more understanding into a world different than my own. Songs like “Losers” by Belle Brigade underscore our universal connections and struggles.

I still enjoy the music of my past. But it’s more for times of rest and respite. For when I want to be nostalgic or need to remember.

But I’m moving forward, and my expanding taste in music is not only evidence of that — it’s actually fuel that’s propelling me ahead.

A sample of what I'm listening to now:

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