It's no secret we live in an age where people seek instant gratification. Love, sex, money, fame, success, happiness - we all want it and we want it now. We as a generation are no longer prepared to put in the commitment and time these things so desperately need to prosper properly and become long lasting.
I chose to wake up before the sun rose today, watch it rise and listen to the album by Angels & Airwaves titled 'Love'. Music and what it is supposed to mean, I feel, has suffered the most in modern society. It comes cheap in today's world and we thrive off of it. We are quick to criticize and highlight the shortcomings of things like fast food, but we fail to consider how music has been damaged. Artists succeed not because they are artists, they succeed because they have mastered the instant gratification generation - a generation where music and its meaning isn't felt anymore, it's just listened to. We use time as our justification and excuse for not appreciating things and music artists exploit this. How can you give up an hour of your time just to sit and listen? It's a waste. And yet, we would use that same time to mindlessly watch TV or browse social networks.
Have we really forgotten the essence of what music as an art form truly is? That at its purest and best music is an expression of emotion and love through lyric and sound? And that great music, like great art has the potential to be timeless? It's a sad, sobering reflection on the world we live in today - that truly great things cannot be truly appreciated because we get bored too quickly or because we don't have the time. I think that, as a consequence, the meaning of music has been bastardized by musicians and fans alike.
I only started sitting down and listening to albums from start to finish this year. This came as a result of a discussion I had with a friend who told me I don't know how to listen to music, I just listen to music. That didn't make much sense, but it did make me think. I've long said that blink-182 and Angels & Airwaves are my favourite bands, and yet, up until this year, I've only listened to these bands songs in isolation, or skipped tracks to get to my favourite songs. But that isn't listening. Listening is an exercise of patience, time and appreciation - of acknowledging and thanking artists for the huge personal sacrifice of time and dedication they have made to tell a story to their fans. Listening to music is about truly feeling someone else tell you a story, not just hearing it being told.
When I first listened to Love I was disappointed. I was upset because I wanted instant gratification from it. I wanted it to make me feel good right away. I couldn't understand what I thought were unnecessarily long introductions to songs and generally what AvA was trying to accomplish by presenting a style of music that went against today's norms and expectations, and, I wrote it off as a failure. It took a close friend's constant insistence that I was wrong to make me decide to actually 'listen' to the album again and not just to look for songs I might like, but to actually hear the story the album was trying to convey to me as the fan.
Why my reference to the sun rising earlier? Because Love is a musical journey, a journey which cannot be rushed, just like the darkness of the night unhurriedly, and in its own time, gives way to light. It's not just an album made up of tracks; it's an exploration of a feeling, of the feeling of love and its meaning, expressed through song. There are parts of it that I prefer, I admit, but if that's how you look at it, you miss the entire point. The album was not made so that tracks can be listened to in isolation, it was made to tell a story. And to truly appreciate the story, and to understand the brilliance of AvA, you have to be prepared to take the time to let that story be told. Isn't that really the brilliance of life itself, of being patient enough to give it the time it needs to let the story it has for you unfold, instead of just rushing to a conclusion.
It's unfortunate that society thrives on things created in the name of convenience and efficiency, and on the massively lucrative marketing hoax that life is meant to be easy and that things should come to us easily as and when we want them. But that's not right. We need to remember that life in general is about enduring and listening and appreciating - only then can we rediscover that there still are great things to be found - like the blessing that is music as an art form, and not just as another fad that seeks to appease a meaningless craving for instant gratification.
Join the AvA movement, search for something more. You never know, you may also rediscover what listening truly is.