Music: Tangible Evidence of Coolness

Music says a lot about a person. Music can tell you where people came from, their style, provide a glimpse into their personality, and music can bring people together.

The power of music can even bridge a generational gap.

In the early 90s I still remember sifting through old records of my parents. My introduction to Led Zeppelin, Super Tramp, Neil Young, The Beatles, Jethro Tull, and Pink Floyd began on an old record player in a musty basement. I can imagine my parents surprise as The Immigrant Song’s hard-hitting guitar rift billowed from the basement as they sat in the living room.

It was an insight into my parents’ lives. As I listened to the music I thought; my parents were – at one time – cool. Their record collection left tangible evidence of their coolness for me to discover 20 years later.

The same time I discovered my parents’ music, CD sales soared. Music-living teens flocked to companies like Columbia House who promised 10 CD for one cent, if you would purchase more at full price over two years. CD collections grew, walls and racks became adorn with piles of CD cases, and music felt alive.

My allowance and my part-time job now had a purpose: buying more CDs.

As we inched closer towards the new millennium, the music industry began to change. Mixed CDs of downloaded songs, iPods filled with mp3s, and Napster became the norm for teens and twenty-somethings.

Collecting music stopped becoming an art form and became a file sharing process.

As college and university students move, they no longer lug milk crates filled with CDs. Their music is comfortably in their pockets and filed on their computers hard drive. In 20 years, their music files will likely be gone and they will be left with only memories of music that shaped their identity.

Their future children will have no tangible evidence of their parents’ coolness. A generational connection might be lost forever.

Culturally, we’re moving away from tangible evidence of our existence. The digital revolution has connected us to a point where we fear our privacy is being invaded. But with the change to digital content, will future generations see us as an enigma with no tangible evidence of our once coolness?

One day I might hear the harmonic voice of Eddie Vedder flow from the basement as he sings Better Man. My future children may never feel I’m cool, but my CD collection provides proof that I allowed music to help shape the person I became.

Next time you hear a song you love, consider buying the album – it might be the only proof of your once coolness to your children.


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