My girlfriend has a much better taste in music than me. I keep being reminded of this fact as I look at compilations of year-end "best albums" lists and realising that I've heard at most a couple of albums off any list.
It's not that my girlfriend has listened to more of them, she doesn't like the majority of new music, but at least she has the capacity to. Me, I've lost the ability to listen to albums properly, like I used to. And it's got nothing to do with losing touch with the current music climate, I may really be more updated than ever, but somehow my listening for absolute pleasure and listening uninterrupted to whole pieces of music has completely dissipated.
Part of it is information overload and my general championing of functional over absolute music. But mostly, I blame conceptuality.
See, my girlfriend's taste in music is very literal. It's not that she has no understanding of what makes music good - far from it, she can point very specifically to features she likes. No, the thing is that she likes what she likes - doesn't try to put it in systems of thought, doesn't worry about where its coming from a great deal, and ends up picking music she likes to listen to because she likes the lyrics, or melody, or the feel. If she finds a track she likes, she's got no problem listening to it over and over again until she's tired of it - after all, it's a good track, isn't it?
Me, I listen to music to make frameworks of understanding in my mind. I barely ever listen to music repeatedly or even deeply, preferring to listen to a lot of music superficially. My greatest music experiences are usually epiphanies, not moods, and I have a hard time listening to music without being able to put it into context. Conversely, I often revisit music I've previously scorned after learning more about it and suddenly finding it wonderful.
It didn't use to be this way. Circa 2001 I was just as literal as she is now, but reading, radio-making, blogging and academia has made me approach music in a totally different way. I still derive enormous amounts of pleasure from it, but somehow, I have a niggling feeling I no longer quite get what makes music good. Or rather, I can see it in other people's picks, but I keep getting excited over music that's not really very good at all.
Lucky I have my girlfriend who can select good music for our common daily life...