Anyone with an Internet connection can instantly access somewhere around 40 million songs from all eras of recorded music history. That’s a lot. Way too much for the average person as this article by James Jackson Toth at NPR points out.
In Charlotte Zwerin’s 1988 film Straight, No Chaser, Thelonious Monk road manager Bob Jones tells a story about Monk appearing on a television show sometime in the late ’50s. Monk is asked what kind of music he likes, to which he replies “all kinds.” The interviewer, hoping for a “gotcha” moment, smugly asks “even country?” to which the maverick pianist coolly deadpans, “I said all kinds.”
Me too. It has been said that we are living in a golden age of music fandom; with a single click, we can access almost every piece of music ever recorded, and for less than it would cost to hear a single song on a jukebox in 1955. But I’ve begun to feel that my rabid consumption of music, when coupled with the unprecedented access encouraged by new technology, has endangered my ability to process it critically.
This is a real problem with me, too. How can the human brain adequately process this firehose of music? Keep reading.