Friday, September 14, 2007

column 9; new albums

When I get a new album I, like most people, listen to it compulsively for a while. I played 'Sgt. Peppers' non-stop for about a month and a half when I first got it. Of course it was also the first CD I ever got, so it was special, and Rolling Stone is of the opinion that it's the best album ever created, so I'm really not crazy.

When I put it on now I don't really listen to it anymore. I notice the first bars and the last bars, and everything in between is a mush. I know the album backwards and forwards. And I mean that literally, my high school room mate Aaron and I once played the album backwards to see if we could get anything out of it, (which we did on the last track). But recently my collection of albums has expanded greatly, and the one I can listen to every day without getting tired of it is Bowie's 'Hunky Dory'.

Its unusual, since the album is so adolescent. The sound, and the lyrics, all express ideas and notions and feelings I had when I was a teenager. The thing is replete with Nietszche and Existentialism. But it's also fantastically produced, solid, and catchy. I don't even claim to know all the lyrics yet, much less understand what he's on about, but I can't get enough of it.

Between Bowie and The Beatles this has happened many times. I experienced the same thrill with The Zombies' 'Odyssey and Oracle', Stevie Wonder's 'Innervisions', and Marvin Gaye's 'What's Going On'.

When we were kids it was toys. We'd get a new toy and play with it constantly. Incorporate it in the fantasy worlds we'd devised. Name it, take it with us everywhere. And then we'd outgrow it. Find something new, or rediscover something old, and be all over it for some time. And it goes on. We still have toys, whether our toys are CDs, DVDs, phones, books, television shows, or whatever we seek for entertainment. For some I'm sure it runs even deeper, new places to live, new friends, new lovers. Some people get jittery by living the same life for more than a few years, and are constantly reinventing themselves. No, its not just Madonna.

Truly its all of us. There are very few people you can think of who are always the same in all circumstances. I know a couple, just authentic, unfazed by their surroundings. Adapting only as they see fit. Some are real nuisances, others great mentors. There are pros and cons of everything and choosing to adapt or not isn't any different. Ma Nature seems to favor adaptation, if evolution is any judge, but she's been wrong before. And there are all sorts of cases of critters who outside their natural habitat have thrived just doing the same things they've always done. Pigeons, rats, cockroaches, starlings, rabbits, and so many others. We're just hyper-intelligent social cockroaches, right?

Maybe that's too simplistic. Definitely too simplistic. But I stand by my poor analogy anyway. Because that's what most people do, is try and fit in wherever they land by doing things that worked for them before. (There's not, incidentally, only one species of cockroach. Anyone whose encountered a Madagascar Hissing Cockroach knows what I'm talking about.)

So we try and adapt and we try and use our old skills as well. And we fit in. Or don't. Either way we generally move on. Either from a lack of acceptance or boredom of hearing and doing the same things, and playing with the same old toys and friends.

Okay, so not everyone chooses to cut and run like I do. That's fine. I accept that. But while I explain why I do - Holy Smokes! What's that behind you?!

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