What don’t I need to listen to?
I’ve been shelving things lately, and also getting rid of stuff. Getting rid of stuff can feel hard at first, but it quickly becomes satisfying.
Most of the stuff I have is music, most of that (in physical media) is CDs. And I’ve been looking at my shelves and looking at my stuff and thinking not only what don’t I need—for me the perpetual issue is just how many of those Beethoven and Mahler symphony cycles I will actually listen to—but what I just don’t need to hear.
Better said: hear again. There is music I’m so familiar with that I have an unusual experience with it: I’ll hear it in my head, and like the way that feels, then go put it on the speakers…and turn it off. The uncanny pleasure of music in the memory is shattered by the actual sound in real time, it’s like loosing hold of a wonderful day dream.
Here’s a short selection of some of this, music I’ve come to realize I don’t need to hear again in my life. It’s going to have some surprises on it, I’m sure:
- Bob Dylan
- The Beatles
- Arnold Schoenberg
- Maria Joào Pires
- Anthony Braxton
- Henri Dutilleux
Perhaps my feeling is that I know and understand this music, that there’s nothing left for me to discover in it. On the classical side, especially, I’ll likely encounter the stuff live, and that’s such a different experience than putting on records that I’ll always look forward to it. But at home, I’m not going to spin these again. I’m certain of that.
I’m curious about your thoughts, and what your list might look like, tell me in the comments.
I'm a writer and editor here (musician otherwise), with bylines in The Wire, Down Beat, New York Classical Review, VAN, Music & Literature, Grove Dictionary of American Music, Signal to Noise, and many others. I'm also the Music Editor at the Brooklyn Rail. Contact me for any of your word needs.