My Musical Disconnect
Words & artwork by Michael Marsicano
There was a time in my life that was completely immersed in music. I listened to songs repeatedly — zeroing in on individual instruments. I relentlessly played guitar and jammed at open mics. Concerts were a common and deeply-appreciated event. Always on the hunt for new and fresh music — I feverishly collected tapes, albums, cds and dvds. But over the past decade this enthusiasm has considerably waned. Music in general, which once took up a sizable portion of my time and attention, has receded into a much smaller part of my soul. The filter that aggregates my personal soundtrack has become significantly tighter causing many universally-adored new artists to sound lack-luster to me. And while the rest of the world frolics through the pulsing garden of today’s newest musicians, I can be found apathetically reclining under the dense shade of my old standbys and their satellite contemporaries.
I’m well-aware that most people will identify this as an aging hipster longing for a time when music had a certain “purity” but I think that my musical apathy is more of a by-product of the passage of time.
As I steadily (yet gracefully, might I add) age, my life also grows more complex. Music, for most people is a kind of atmospheric mirror which we employ to evoke or heighten a moment. There is the album you put on when you go to the beach. There is a song you listen to when you are joyously wallowing in a breakup. There’s that one artist you only listen to during that first hint of autumn. When I was living in a simpler time, the music I was discovering amplified the euphoria of possibility. Each note seemed to be a metaphor for the rolling horizon of my life.
When I was twenty I personally discovered James Brown Live At The Apollo II — a double cd that fundamentally changed the trajectory of my musical tastes. And I was absolutely dumbfounded by the cool indifference it met from my father, a deep lover of black music. To me — this new album illuminated a part of me that had been lying dormant for twenty years. To my father — it was just an album that he heard twenty years earlier. Perhaps this is the very reason why it’s all the more difficult for new music to hook me so deeply today. Music was life because life was a party. And nowadays the party is followed by an early morning rise.
I suppose this is what maturity looks like. No longer fascinated by the amplification of Me, my ego has descended to a more manageable altitude and I have accepted the fact that everything new eventually becomes old. For years, music was mostly a proxy for “the good times”. I was never really a serious player so I don’t feel any sorrow at the fact that music resonates within my soul at a much lower frequency. Despite the forlorn nature of these statements, I’ve actually found my diminished obsession with music comforting. Instead, I’ve spent these past several years turning my undivided attention towards creating imagery and storytelling. And despite the consistent vacillating between self-consciousness and confidence that most working artists endure, the boost in output has been a personal and professional godsend.
Trading up one obsession for another — nowadays I spend most of my work time voraciously taking in podcasts. Whether it is ruminations on economic theory or a couple of comedians making dick jokes, I can’t get enough of the chatter. You would think that with my extensive trove of mp4’s I could easily find a soundtrack for whatever is on the drawing table.