Monday, November 12, 2007

A Requiem For 2007

I think I can finally admit it: 2007 sucked.

Don't misunderstand me. On nearly every count, this was the best year of my life. I switched from a miserable job to a dreamy one. I moved to a new place for the first time in 8 years, saying a final goodbye to karaoke Daryl and miserly landlords. And a romance that began late in October 2006 deepened and grew. As of last month, I'm engaged.

That's a year no one could complain about. And yet...

If you follow the music industry it's been impossible to miss the growing sense of doom. I am not a naysayer by nature, but I can't help but believe that the music industry as we know it is dying, slowly-and-surely. I guess part of me wanted to believe that digital and physical sales would continue to co-exist, each feeding off the other. But with CD sales dropping by the week, it appears that the future of music is in downloads. And that has big implications on how we experience music and on the future of the album itself.

But that's not even what I want to write about. I have no doubt that we're in an awkward transitional phase and that the changes ahead will result in a new status quo for music lovers. It just so happens that this coming change made itself clear during the least exciting musical year I've experienced since my obsession began 11 years ago.

This is probably no surprise if you follow 3 Minutes, 49 Seconds regularly. I post when I'm excited. This year that has happened only 17 times. That's a pathetic number. Consider that in the first TWO months of starting this blog, I posted 22 times!

Some might say that my own domestic bliss is a factor. It's the Hornby Theory: Pop music is best experienced in times of trauma and unhappiness. There's also the question of whether or not my musical obsession was just a placeholder, a substitute for love. I seriously considered both of these possibilities. But recently, after watching the excellent Peter Bogdonavich documentary about Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, I set off on a minor two week obsession with their music, including the requisite trip to Cheapo to dig up some of their old LPs. It was a welcome reminder that I could still connect.

It leads me to the conclusion that I stated at the beginning: This has been a blah year for my relationship with music. I used to not believe in that sort of thing, bad years for entertainment. I used to think there were always gems to be found. I can't deny that certain songs and albums have spoken to me this year. It has just been much quieter than usual, less lasting and less frequent. Albums by perennial favorites such as Prince, Foo Fighters, Kelly Clarkson, Bjork, and even Spoon and Crowded House have disappointed to varying degrees. What's worse, precious few new artists insinuated themselves into my playlists.

In a couple of weeks I'll finalize my end-of-the-year favorites list, and I'm afraid that we may not even get to an even 10. It's tempting to look at it as a sign o' the times. Luckily, a new year is a time of fresh starts and renewed hope. Here's to 2008!