If one were to ask, I would say that my favorite active music acts today were Rodrigo y Gabriela and Josh Ritter. Bloc Party would be among them if they hadn't broken up last year, Flogging Molly is nipping at the edges and Brandi Carlile would make a strong run at that distinction if I listened through more than one of her albums. Astor Piazzolla would certainly be there, if he weren't dead.
I sit at my computer with some regularity and play one of their albums. If I catch a groove in writing or find a fascinating article, it can be a full thirty minutes of silence before I realize nothing is playing and I have to wonder whether I had even hit the play button. I know their music. I like their music, but I can't recall hearing any of it just then. It was just white noise and blocked the sound of the neighbors upstairs or cars pulling in and out of the parking lot. The music became the background, and I didn't even notice anymore.
And that's the music I like and want to hear. Then there's the music on the car radio that keeps me from nodding off, and the music in the supermarket and restaurants that keeps me moving through the establishment in a suitably brisk manner and make way for incoming customers. There are film and television soundtracks that track the emotional beats and cues.
I do not think it is such an exaggeration to say that we don't so often really listen to music anymore. It's like a color. It adds a certain shading to the daily proceedings. We expect it to be there. It's nothing special or spectacular.
To actually hear music again and be taken up by it and lose track of everything else while it plays, to be reminded forcefully that music is not just a tempo to my life but full of textures and brilliance, that is something incredible. This song and video did it for me. Maybe you saw it already. It has over seventeen million hits on YouTube already, but that's several billion who haven't yet seen it and need to.
2 years ago