Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright
I can’t help but feel like our “iPod generation” has given rise to a serious paradigm shift in the intrinsic value of music itself.
by John Justice
My friends, I am a changed man. Not because I’ve learned the meaning of life, and not because the heavens themselves have pulled back their shrouded veil of mystery. I am forever changed for one reason: When I was 16 years old, I discovered one of the world’s most amazing and infinitely priceless works of audible art: “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan”.
This was no mere folk album to me. Its words were much deeper than simple rhymes and its melodies were far more than step-wise major scales. The 50 minute experience, which I accidentally stumbled upon, was so overwhelming in its prolific ease, so profoundly potent in its revolutionary message, that it literally altered my perception of reality. Needless to say, I instantly became an obsessed “Dylan-ite.”
A decade has passed since my 16th year, and funnily enough, the deeper I meditate on this life changing experience the more one thing becomes clear: Were my eternal adolescent spirit standing in front of me today, he would have only one question, “What’s the last album you listened to?”
This may strike many of you as a particularly unimportant question, but do not mistake the simplicity of this query for a sign of trite curiosity. I believe this is the absolute most important question posed to professed music lovers of the present day.
The more people I talk to, the more I get the impression that albums are becoming less and less important every sales quarter. Even if someone actually expresses their love of a particular album to me, the album itself is always described as a mere esthetic container for its individual tracks.
I can’t help but feel like our “iPod generation” has given rise to a serious paradigm shift in the intrinsic value of music itself. We worship at the feet of compact quantity, as we prepare our offerings to the gods of instant gratification.
Most people in this world would agree that music is an art form. And yet “art” is no longer a commonplace description of music in our world. I believe this is very strongly connected with the decline of the album. An album is one large work of art and true appreciation of a work of art takes time, contemplation, and perspective.
How can we fully appreciate the works of Alan Ginsberg by taking a single line of “Howl” out of context? How can we soak in the complexities of Vincent van Gogh by viewing only a tiny corner of “Cypresses?” If we don’t have the time to truly experience art, then it instantly becomes nothing more than entertainment.
My friends, music is an art form with limitless potential for the transmission of understanding, happiness, and healing. Listen to an album today. If music is important to you, make time for it. Get to know your favorite artists. Don’t base your opinion of them off of single-pixel snapshots.
The smallest amount of effort can lead you to experiences far greater than the one I shared with you today. Let us stop overlooking the beauty of the forest for the sake of one tree. Let us regain our album-mindedness.
I know this might require you to actually make some changes. And I know that dedicating time to music may seem difficult at first. It may even seem totally impossible. But I promise you, it gets easier and it is unbelievably worth it. Do me a favor: Don’t think twice, it’s alright.