I’ve always loved all things retro—clothes, music, stronger family values permeating culture, the much romanticized view of a simpler time. Recently I’ve found myself rediscovering something that feels retro, although it was an integral part of my own childhood experience: music on CDs.
Every now and then, as John and I clean up the apartment or when I’m making dinner and waiting for him to come home, I switch on the stereo in the living room and let a couple of discs play. I never sorted out how to hook up my iPod to the stereo, and to be honest, the battery on it has run out because I haven’t used it much in the past few months. Somehow a couple of CDs ended up in the player, from one occasion or another, and I very much enjoy having a couple of favorites at the ready.
Part of the fun is listening to the music itself: the latest Train album, KT Tunstall (great cooking music!), and Tim Margiotta, in particular. But for me, the other pleasure is in letting a full album run its course. Artists are intentional about the order of their tracks, using the progression to tell a story or evoke a mood, and I think that’s something I miss when I choose to make my own playlist.
In a time when entertainment offers us so many choices, and so instantly, we could each individually decide what to watch or listen to every moment of every day. There are certainly times when this is a blessing. And I’m sure when first introduced, the idea of creating one’s own playlist on something like iTunes was the ideal solution for many listeners who wanted more control over their music—listen to what you want, when you want, in the order you want. A totally personalized experience.
Now I find myself often feeling overwhelmed with how many choices modern technology offers me. I wonder if the time spent making personal choices, almost reinventing the wheel in some cases, could be otherwise, and more productively spent. Do I need to do everything my way, or can I accept some things as others have created them?
Like with all things, I think there is a balance to be struck here, and perhaps a lesson to consider as well. And in this case, erring on the side of the simpler past may not be a bad thing.