Nostalgia Ain’t What It Used To Be. Or Maybe It Is.

“We may be through with the past, but the past ain’t
through with us.”

I have finally embraced my nostalgic tendencies. I never thought I would get to the point in my life where things in the rear view mirror looked more appealing than things in the present; but only in some aspects. My personal life and my career have never been better, really. No, what I’m talking about is pop culture and, specifically, music.

I used to poke fun at those ageing music fans who bemoaned the current state of music and the fact that it was ‘better back in their day’. It seemed sad to me. But now, approaching the ripe old age of 45, I have a tendency to think the same thing. It’s not that I don’t buy or enjoy new bands and albums, I do. A lot. And, this year especially, I have found and purchased and enjoyed more new acts than I have in probably the last 10 years. But back in the day, in the ‘80’s and ‘90’s, there seemed to be so much more. Great new albums were coming at me so fast and furious that I could barely keep up, and this is at a time when you had to really do your homework to find out about these things. No internet, pal, just word of mouth, imported music magazines and, to a much lesser extent, college radio stations.

The weird thing is, even with the internet, I find it a much more arduous task to find quality music out there. Why? Well, let’s go back to that age thing. I’m constantly comparing, whether I’m aware of it or not, new stuff to the old stuff. “Hey, that sounds like Band X! Wow that really sounds like Album Y!” Nowadays, I reckon, bands have a tendency to ape their influences a little more and not simply use them as a springboard to create something new. There are exceptions of course, but I think it is getting more and more the case each year.

“There is nothing more useless than that which is behind me”

I realize that nostalgia is a natural part of the process, and maybe my penchant for my past nowadays will fade over time, but right now I’ve gotta tell you I’m really enjoying revisiting my past. Here’s an excerpt from Psychology Today to help make my point:

“When people wax nostalgic, they become happier. For example, in the laboratory, when people are asked to reflect on experiences, objects, or songs from the past that they are nostalgic about, positive mood increases. This makes sense because when we analyze the content of people’s nostalgic episodes we find that they are mostly positive. It is true that nostalgia can be bittersweet (happiness with a tinge of sadness). However, the net result is positive. Nostalgia simply makes people happy.

Nostalgia is more than just a mood boost though. It also increases self-esteem and perceptions of meaning in life. This explains the championship game story phenomenon. Many nostalgic experiences are connected to personal accomplishments and momentous life events. Life is not one great success after another. Our daily existence can often be tedious and sometimes depressing. Using nostalgia, we can inject some meaning and excitement into life. Nostalgia involves conjuring up the experiences that stick out as worthwhile and fulfilling.”

Nostalgia is good psychological medicine, folks. Embrace it.