Mild Dermatographia

Musical Memories


I have an irrational fear of becoming labelled or labelling myself. I don’t follow a sports team or preferred brand. I don’t consider myself a conservative or a liberal or a green; I vote for a party each election independantly based solely on their platform, not their title. I’m not a metalhead or a kpop stan or a classical affeccionado; I just listen to whatever music I find interesting at the time, regardless of genre.

I have a second, perhaps less irrational, fear of decaying mentally and in society. I think there’s an idea floating around that, the older you get, the more ingrained in your current identity you become, and the further you fall behind society. I want my identity to be fluid and I want to be constantly searching for new ideas to challenge my preconcieved notions, both for the sake of remaining flexible in the ever changing world, as well as keeping cognitive degeneration at bay. One way I’ve tried to tackle this is through music.

I know my parents listen in large to the same music they did when they were younger. I wanted to avoid spending my entire life listening to the same genres, but after only a couple years of use, Spotify had me (or rather, I had myself) in a musical rut, listening to the same genres from the same playlists (Liked Songs and my own genre-specific playlists). This frustration may have in part inspired my rant from last year All Music Sucks.

I was hesitant to delete my account and start from scratch at first; my parents have told me more than a few times to take pictures to remember trips, and I figure saving music I’ve listened to is the auditory equivalent to that, allowing me to dip into the past and experience what I used to/maybe still like. My desire to get out of my rut at the time was strong, and that, mixed with my misguided idea to eschew keeping memories with the misguided goal of staying adaptible and open, resulted in me deleting my account and creating a new one.

It’s been about a year, and I definitely have some diversity in my Liked Songs now. Not a lot more than before, mind you, and I’ve definitely noticed my taste trending back to where it was before, since I haven’t been actively searching for unique or different music in a couple months now. What I have noticed, though, is how much I miss having access to my old (only two year old!) songs. They chronicled my emotional state moving abroad for the first time, feeling isolated, using heavier music as an emotional outlet, and gradually discovering metal subgenres. There’s also songs I’ve shared with my partner, that they’ve shared with me. There’s a small army of songs which I have emotional connections to, but can’t for the life me remember or find, only ever getting a snippet of a melody or even just a feeling. It’s incredibly frustrating.

I think I’ve discovered first-hand just how valuable memories are, even on a short time scale. I think, in the future, I’ll use other avenues for finding different music, instead of deleting what I’ve saved. When it comes to the misguided idea that keeping old music will give me early onset dementia or cognitive decline, I think maintaining a healthy lifetsyle and keeping myself mentally stimulated overall is more important than discovering a new genre every 6 months.