Deep Listening

About fifteen years ago, when I was first starting Cyan Pictures, I lived bi-coastally between New York and LA. I didn’t own – or need – a car here in New York, but I had a long-term rental SUV out on the West Coast, in which I spent hours each day, winding between meetings and production locations, through smog and heavy traffic.

Back in those pre-MP3 days, I had a small booklet of CDs in the car – the fraction of my larger collection that I was willing to tote out West – and I listened to those same CDs again and again and again.

One of those was Elliot Smith’s excellent XO, which Apple Music recommended to me this morning. Listening to it now, I was instantly transported back to that earlier place and time. I knew the words – really knew the words – knew each rise and fall, each chord strum and vocal nuance.

These days, I listen to a far broader lineup of musicians, albums, and even genres than I managed back in that distant past. I discover new music I’d doubtless otherwise miss, can pull up songs I love the moment they cross my mind. And, on balance, I’m hugely grateful for what streaming music has added to my life.

But I also can’t help but miss those old days, when technical limitations forced me to marinate in a small number of songs, held me to listening to albums rather than jumping between single tracks, and let me get to know, really get to know, songs in a way that etched them deep in my mind, in my heart.

March 2, 2017