I was staring irrelevance straight in the face, and I didn’t like it. The conversation began innocently enough: We’re in an interesting time musically, I was explaining to a friend, because popular music as we know it was created at a time that has allowed us to see an amazing amount of creative innovation, but recently enough that we don’t have to be completely overwhelmed with the amount of music we could potentially explore as listeners and performers. (Though sometimes I still do feel overwhelmed when trying to cover enough musical ground to feel as though my grasp of music history is reasonably comprehensive.)
I told my friend that with the Internet allowing thousands of indie and self-released artists to find their way into my listening space these days, I do find it challenging to keep up to date with the trends. Imagine, I postulated, how hard it will be to feel encyclopedic about music in 50 or 100 years. There won’t be enough hours in the day; there will just be too much music to sift through. You could never feel like you’ve been exhaustive in your listening experience. I’d be so stressed about hearing as much music as possible and connecting all the dots that I’d probably never relax enough to actually enjoy the music I did hear. I sure am glad I live now and not then, I told him. What a privilege it is!
I sat there feeling satisfied by my position in the universe when he lobbed the bomb at me: “In 50 or 100 years, it won’t matter. None of the music that’s important now will have the same importance then. It will be as relevant as the music from the 19th century is today.”