I remember one of the first times I discovered a musical artist without the use of a radio or a television. I was at Union Square Station in Washington, D.C., waiting for a train to New York in the mid-90s. I stood at a listening station at some now-defunct CD store there, and I heard Ben Folds Five for the first time.
The method of discovery was not only a departure for me, but so was the music: I was into Mary J. Blige, Prince and Jodeci, so a white college-rock band was, like, "experimental" for me. Ooh boy was I hip.
These days I use TV shows, blogz, radio and magazines to procure my music interests. Lame as it is to say, I actually work at finding new music, even though (and because) it's more accessible than ever. I wasn't cool when I was 22, and I'm still not cool now, but I want to know what the kids are listening to. I still want to fall in love with songs and musicians, because it's the only way left to really fall in pure, helpless love when you're an adult.
However, I am losing something, and it bothers me. I am losing the experience of living with an album. I am forgetting what it feels like to give an album a provisional license, thinking you kinda like it, and then finding that it has somehow totally taken over your soul (e.g. Who Is Jill Scott?).
This kind of love starts only after you have listened to an entire album, straight through, for about the fifth time. It happens when you get to know the album well enough to know its faults, but to appreciate it anyway. It happens when you know every track, and you have had affairs and conversations and partnerships with each one. It happens when you feel as though you could continue on with that album -- the whole thing, not just a single -- for the rest of your life.
Who does that these days? Certainly not me. I am too busy pulling up MySpace for the newest ear candy. I download a song, fall in love a little bit, and it's over (or I'm frustrated, because there's no label release yet). I'm looking for an album I can really date long-term. Does anyone have suggestions?