The Friday Morning Listen: Gus Gus – Attention (2002)

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A couple of nights back, I saw this cool documentary titled Press Pause Play. It’s about how the digital revolution has changed the entire game for human creativity, removing many barriers to entry and in some respects redefining creativity itself. Books. Film. Music. It’s all different now.

This isn’t exactly a new topic for me, though I’ll admit that I often drift over to the “What have we lost?” side of the argument. And yes, I’m about to do that again.

First of all, I do agree the the digital world has brought fourth a wide range of new opportunities for the creative sort. How can I not? The Internet has opened up a new world for me, and who knows what the future holds?

No, there was just one short segment during which a writer for The Wire spoke about how her listening habits had changed, how she almost never “just” listened to music anymore. Other people gave examples of the now fractured ways that entertainment often consumed: watching a movie while texting, for example.

Everybody has seen this kind of behavior. Since we’re never going to be putting that particular genie back in the bottle, I don’t bother expending much energy worrying about it. But you have to agree that there’s something sad about the purely mediated environment, particularly when the “real” environment is ignored at the expense of the virtual. I live in a small, coastal New England town. In just about every direction there is beauty to be had, from mountains to blue water slamming into the rocky coastline. Tourists pile out of cars and walk along the footpaths…heads down, staring into their smart phones. Seriously?

But back to the music. I’ve come to realize that maybe those “listening only” years were just a short segment of the pop music timeline, one that’s probably gone forever. When people first listened to records, it was a much simpler world, one of stacks of 45’s and the family console stereo (or maybe the portable record player). There were relatively few distractions. And hey, maybe I was in the minority with my habit of reading the album liner notes while listening. But it was something of an immersive experience and that’s what I think is gone forever. An artist spent a lot of time conceiving and putting together that music, and now it has become a partial soundtrack to, well…what is it?

I’m not here to say that anybody is “wrong,” because clearly this is a choice. It’s just that sometimes we have to realize that what seems like progress may have unintended consequences, and that includes missing some important details like…life?

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Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to Jazz.com, Blogcritics.org and Salon, he originated several of our weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at [email protected]
Mark Saleski
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