Tonight I had a few moments on my hands. The house was empty, and I had to get some laundry folded before the family would come home with all of their usual distractions. So I brought the laundry basket upstairs and turned on the TV, but not for the reason you might think.
Television has been expunged from my life this year. I have no interest in any shows, or any people on said shows, or any news or sports or anything else that the screen might want to bring into my house. It feels like I’ve turned my back on that medium, and have embraced the online world with the same enthusiasm that was once reserved for Happy Days and One Day at a Time and all of their ilk. And it’s more than a fair trade, if you ask me.
A byproduct of this action is the removal of cable TV. In its place, there are Roku devices, which allow for streaming of services such as Hulu and Netflix. The rest of my family watches them, but I have no interest in them whatsoever.
So why turn the TV on? Because the Roku allows for streaming Pandora, which is an internet-based radio service. No DJs, no commercials, just music. I’m not sure how they make any money at it, because the artists will surely want some royalties for the use of their songs, but that doesn’t concern me, either. I just know it’s there, and that’s enough for me.
Pandora is arranged by various stations, where music either by or similar to any artist you could think of is played. There were many pop music stations already set up, and I scrolled through the list, looking for something worthwhile. By some miracle, similar to something I wrote about last year, I found a station called AC/DC Radio and clicked on it. I was greeted by three of my favorite songs (this one, followed by this one, and topped off by this one) which helped me to fold the laundry.
As I was listening to the music, I realized that the music that really speaks to me all came out in a narrow window of time, concentrated mostly between 1980 (when I was in middle school) and 1988 or 1989 (when I was in my last years of college). I appreciate some of the music on either side of these dates, but not very much.
As my own children are coming into those middle school-to-college years in their lives, I’m hopeful that some day, when they’re older than they can ever imagine being right now, they’ll have a few minutes to themselves, and some way of hearing a few songs that mean something to them. And I hope they’ll appreciate that moment as much as I did this evening. It’s a sign, at least in my mind, of the power that music has to return us to a time in our lives that might not otherwise seem very evident.
Rock and roll will never die, as AC/DC asserted in the first of my 80s trio tonight, but all of us who once owned the song on vinyl as confused adolescents will die, on some unknown date in the future. Until that happens, we’ll have Pandora–and other services like it–to remind us of those days when the music was still new. And this will help to keep us young, at least in spirit.