My music listening habits keep changing over the years. From vinyl and cassettes to CD’s to iTunes to Spotify. I remember the playlist i made in a playlist organizer for my birthday party. I don’t remember the name of the application. I had to connect my computer to my sound system with a long wire.
I wrote a post on lfs.nl called A short incomplete musical history in 2005. I will quote the entire post here.
Reading the Rip it up and start again-book made me thinking back lots, as i wrote yesterday. Being a witness of this period, but from such a distance it lost its depth. It felt like a watching a movie from the backrow. Reading the book makes me see it from behind the scenes, see unexpected threads connecting.
Being born halfway the 60’s, my earliest memories are a thick LP with a red label with Dutch children’s songs on it (“In de speeltuin”, “Toen onze mop een mopje was”). I also remember a double single from the Beatles, with a booklet inbetween: Magical Mystery Tour. That was fascinating to me, i used to leaf trhough it, it had such pretty colours, enchanting. I also remember a single from the Beach Boys, Good Vibrations. These were both from my sister. Her being nice years older than me, she was the most important influence on my childhood music memories. So its twofold, on one side the music from the charts: George McCray, Rock you baby, Boney M. on the other hand my sister’s music, American westcoast music mostly: Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, Loggins and Messina, Little Feat.
A memory still clear: me watching ABBA perform at the Eurovision Songfestival. Being 10 years old, it was still exciting for me to watch it, comment on every song with the family, none of the campy sentiments surrounding it today. You actyallu wanted your country to win! But in 1974, i remember being swept away by Agnetha’s blue satin trousers and white boots, the little cap on her head, the long blond hair and pretty face. Long before i bought Dancing Queen the single at age 12, ABBA was destined to win, i was sure of it! Another mention goes to Jesus hrist Superstar, the first record i remember singing along with. My favourite part ofcourse Yvonne Elliman, I don’t know how to love you. I really don’t know how doing that affected my mental state, singing Maria Magdalena’s part that young. Not raised in an overtly religious family, but the Calvinistic tendency in Dutch society was felt throughout.
Some 20 odd singles later – Tavares, Heaven must be missing an angel; Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel, Make me smile; Fleetwood Mac, Go your own way. Inbetween the chart singles and westcoast music, suddenly Saturday Night Fever and Grease. On holiday with my parents on Tenerife, we tried to dance John Travolta-like in our appartments on the cassette i taped before we had left. I’m not sure what i made of the movie, only when i saw it again much later i relaised it was much more mature than i probably realised at the time. Grease ofcourse was happy fluff!
Another milestone: Seeing Nina Hagen on a Dutch televisionshow presented by Sonja Barend. I was hooked. This screaming shouting Unbeschreiblich weiblich singing, beautiful woman with her black edged eyes and black lipstick, her tightfitting shiny black pants in one smash made me enter adolescence in one night. Gone were the old west coast music, the charts singles, this was something i liked. Another irreverent Dutch band from that time, Gruppo Sportivo, making fun of the record companies, exposing some of the mechanisms behind charts music made for the perfect music for a 14-year old girl.
But still, a time without internet, the only available information for me still was the radio. Not having a radio of my own, it was Madness, the Specials and the Police, the alternative pick of chart music which ruled my world. Only a couple of years later, having a bit more money, access to information through Vinyl, a Dutch early 80s postpunk magazine, getting friends, going to gigs and listening to Spleen on the radio (or go to the live transmitions broadcasted from Parkzicht on the sunday afternoons in a sunny summer 1983). This, to me, was the most exciting period of my music listening live. Going to the record store on thursday afternoons, going through the ‘new releases’, going the to public library for some back cataloguing, but not much, cuz there was always something new to discover. From the poppy end, starting from XTC Black Sea, bought when i was 16, to the dark corners of Throbbing Gristle and Test Department, almost getting to Captain Beefheart, but not quite, there was Prince in the end, with ofcourse a romantic movie and music which made you wanna dance and be happy.
And then the final blow to my music investigating days – apart from me moving out of my parents house and having no money, something i will conveniently forget for now. Summer 1985, Scritti Politti. Most importantly, it was music that made me think, that confused me. It didn’t seem to lead to a definite conclusion, it questioned itself mostly, and boy did i like that. For a time i defiantly turned against the prominent music of the time and read Smash Hits in the canteen of art school, singing along with Whitney Houston and Kylie & Jason. Guess i somehow wanted to go against the grain one way or the other. I started to like music that made me feel happy, with a little bit of irony. I tried to listen with an open mind, forget any preconceived ideas i might have. Around this time i noticed the Pet Shop Boys, who i really really liked – i remember a rather fierce argument where i defended them, i doubt with any success…
The 90s went by too fast going over into the 00s, just some standard fare, a little of Beastie Boys, Massive Attack, Portishead, Radiohead. No real interest, a bit of Beatles and Beach Boys research, some soul music. At this very moment blogs spark my interests in dance, M.I.A., Girls Aloud, and i’m actually discovering the fun in listening to new music again. Oops, its the end of the line, seeya tomorrow! lfs, Ellen
The biggest change was in 2010 when Spotify entered the Dutch market. I did first have an account myself, but in 2011 i switched to another provider which had Spotify premium as a free service. Looking through my playlists i do think one of the first ones is the office one, a public lists where all my colleagues added songs they liked. This is huge tumbler with music ranging from jazz to rap to rock to soul to heavy metal to indie to pop. It’s still in my list, but its been years since i listened to it.
Over the years i added many private playlists. I went through all my vinyl, cassettes and cd’s and added the albums i could find. I have another group of lists called albums in which i add new and old albums which are drawing my ears. There are some playlists i am subscribed to. Which i don’t listen to enough! Some greatest hits playlist: The Pitchfork 500, NME 100 tracks of the decade, Lowlands 2011, Top 2000 editie 2011, John Peel.
One playlist i have listened to this year The Needle from the user The Sounds of Spotify. You can read about these lists on this blog furialog.
So put the needle on the record. The things people are listening to far away only seem weird because “far away” used to matter. You used to have to go to Estonia to hear what people were listening to there. Estonia used to be a “there”. It’s still partly a “there” for licensing reasons, as not all of the songs in all of these lists will be available in all the other regions. Art and joy always move faster than law. But eventually we always catch up. Everywhere can be a here now. Or tomorrow, or next week.
Another site he made is Every Noise at Once, which makes me stare at it with a huge silence in my mind. And then i start clicking and listen to the fragments. Even the category ‘levenslied’ is stuck in between all the other ones.
Another user which caught my ear was Sasha Frere-Jones who listed his Perfect recordings last year which i discovered through kottke.org. I used to listen to his playlist when i was in the train headed to work last year. Nice 🙂
Lastly, i’m building my own mixtapes. I used to have quite large breaks between lists. It went from October 2010 to May 2012. A couple in 2013 and in 2014. From October 2014 till now each month i added a lists of songs i liked. Some old favourites, some new favourites, songs which i like, songs with memories, songs i love. I just made a new lists in which i copied all these songs, which is added below this post. It’s the main list i listen to right now.
I do know i miss an awful lot of music. I wish i had the time to listen to it all. I was listening to a lot of music the past year, but still the quiet is what i like the most. You gotta make choices. I’m still happy with the few playlists which have caught me and made me learn music i didn’t know yet. Curious as to what i will discover next.