Music Nostalgia

When it comes to a discussion of anything, I feel like a very common argument used against those who prefer older movies, games, etc. is that they are “blinded by the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia.”

As a whole, I disagree with that mindset.  Not only does it often rule out the chance that somebody legitimately happens to enjoy something that is older, but I’m also a firm believer in the idea that much of a person’s enjoyment of anything is influenced greatly by personal experience.  So, even if somebody loves something because of great memories formed around it or because it reminds them of a good time in their life, I consider that to be a relevant piece of their enjoyment (as long as they don’t’ try to use it as an objective argument).

However, I don’t think I feel that way as strongly with any medium as I do with music.

In fact, I consider nostalgia to actually be a very important part of the music-listening experience.  One of the most wonderful things about music, in my opinion, is that you can listen to a song and bring back vivid memories of a time long past when you listened to the song, either for the first time or merely in a particularly poignant moment.

Ultimately, memories can really contribute to the experience of listening o music.  For me – as well as many others, I’m sure – music is a way to relate something to what I’m feeling.  If I’m feeling sad, I listen to a sad song; if I’m feeling happy, I listen to a happy song; if I’m going through a particular sort of problem, I try to listen to songs that either capture that sort of problem or just the way I feel about it.  Afterward, when I go on to listen to that song again years later, I can still remember how I felt all that time ago, and it strengthens the emotion in the song.

For example, the first album I ever purchased myself was “So Long, Astoria” by The Ataris.  I listened to that album a lot when I first got it, since it was the only non-instrumental, non-soundtrack album I owned.  Pretty much every song on the album – but particularly the title track – brings back such good memories of simpler, easier times, just in my room with toys or playing video games, that I can’t help but love the music so much more today.  In a sort of interesting and ironic twist, much of the album is even about memories and nostalgia, and about growing up.  That only cements that feeling even more.

I don’t know that I’ve really expressed this here yet, but I believe emotion is the most important part of music.  Some people may disagree with me, and they certainly can, but whether it’s the sadness that helps us relate in a hard time or the happiness that a simple beat that makes us want to dance can bring, that’s what music is to me.  Memories and nostalgia can only make that stronger, and nobody should be deterred from enjoying that aspect of music because it’s not objective enough.

Maybe “So Long, Astoria” doesn’t have the best variety in its sound throughout the tracks.  Maybe there are better lyrics out there.  Maybe it didn’t really do anything to change music.  Maybe it won’t reach generations to come.  But it will always hold a special place for me because of all of the memories I’ve formed listening to it, and I will not accept anybody telling me that that opinion is irrelevant.  Nobody out there should ever feel compelled to accept that such is true of their favorite albums.

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