“The reports of me listening to jazz are greatly exaggerated.”
This whole ‘science thing’ can really mess up your mind if you’re exposed to it for any length, especially when it comes to the science of music enjoyment. Canadian music journalist extraordinaire Alan Cross pointed me in the direction of a study recently completed by bearded and beret wearing types docked at Cambridge (READ THE WHOLE THING HERE) who say that,
“Taste in music DOES change over a lifetime – and even punk-loving teens will listen to classical music in middle age.” It goes on to say that “unless people take the Who’s advice and die before they get old, their taste in music will probably change to meet their social and psychological needs.” Further, it concludes that music lovers of my particular vintage (45 or so) have no choice in the matter, and that we will, eventually, abandon our love of the simple pop tune and give in to the simpler and more positive pleasures of folk and classical and, erm, jazz.
There are, according to this study, five stages one will encounter: The first stage happens in adolescence (“BRILLIANT deduction, Watson!”) and consists of “intense” music such as punk and/or metal, the second stage is blahblahblahblah. Really, if you want to read the whole thing click on the link in the first paragraph. I’ll just tell you that it hasn’t been my experience thus far. Here’s my take on it:
Stage One (-9 months to 7 years of age): You will listen to whatever your parents are listening to, be that mini speakers pressed into your mama’s belly playing Baby Bach or, when you’re out of the womb and in my own personal case, Stars On 45, Johnny Cash and CW McCall (“We’ve got a great big convoy, rockin’ through the night!”). At this stage you are at their mercy.
Stage Two (8 to 12 years of age): You are now ripe and ready for people you admire to start influencing your current and future listening habits. The music you latch onto now, and I mean really latch on to and not just casually listen to, will stay with you for the rest of your life, in some form or another. You will be ashamed by it for a spell, and then finally and much later in life embrace it fully and unashamedly. This is what you would call “guilty pleasure music.”
Stage Three (13-17 years of age): Your rebellious years. Those guilty pleasures from Stage #2 have been hidden under the bed and you’re dipping your toe into cooler waters, if you will. For guys, this is when the metal and punk influences creep in, and the more curse words and scatological references the better. Loudness matters, too. You also start to take sides, and for me it was punk and the burgeoning new wave scene of the early ‘80’s. You start going to clubs, dressing appropriately for whatever genre your allegiance lies, and are influenced, or are influencing, other like minded individuals. The clique phase.
Stage Four (18-25): You are, by this time, your own man and are secure in the fact that what you are listening to is the best music out there. It is also a time where you’re itching to find other, similar bands to embrace. It is also, for some, the “college years”, and many, many poor choices can be made based on album art, drunken club gigs and a perpetual altered state. Don’t worry, though. The good ones will stick.
Stage Five (26-35): The wilderness years. This is traditionally the time most people will settle down, get a steady job, start a family, and start paying a mortgage. In other words, it’s the end of your childhood. You need to get serious, and once you have your first child you need to become a lot less selfish! Albums or diapers, the latest issue of The NME (at exorbitant import prices, no less!) or formula for the baby. For most the choice is easy. Your listening habits are now officially interrupted, but you don’t really mind.
Stage Six (35-45): This is the time where nostalgia starts to creep in, but before it does your enthusiasm for new, exciting tunage returns with a vengeance, fueled by a stable career and a growing income (hopefully). You start to discover new bands and albums like you were still in Stages Three and Four and, if you’re lucky, find other like minded souls entering the same phase that share your new found enthusiasm. It is at this stage those crusty professor types at Cambridge say that I should start listening to “happy, blissful music”, “intelligent music” or “serious music”. To translate, “Soft folk”, “jazz” and “classical”. Now while I can certainly appreciate those styles now more than I once did, and will even throw on the odd classical and/or Dave Brubeck record, these styles have definitely NOT taken the place of pop and rock music as my go-to, treasured genre of choice. I am now more passionate about discovering new bands, and rediscovering things that passed me by the first time around, and reacquainting myself with old friends from my childhood by listening with new, albeit hairier, ears.
In other words, I don’t really care how many “test subjects” they used for this study.
They didn’t use me.