One of the coolest things for me as a music fan is watching bands I knew in my childhood grow and experiment and change. I listen to new artists plenty, but there’s something to be said about old veterans of the airwaves.
A couple of months ago I stared DJ’ing for a local radio station and as a result, the breadth of music that I was listening to expanded exponentially. This often involves exploring the new release charts and music blogs and through these I often discover new music from older bands. Some of these artists are people or bands I thought had stopped making music ages ago. It’s so interesting to listen to what they sound like now. A lot of them have adopted a more current, popular sound which isn’t too interesting because it seems like new bands have the edge when it comes to making new styles of music. However, it’s really fun to listen to the evolution of older bands who have changed their style without adopting the current flavor, if you will. Seeing threads and splashes of their old style and sound interlaced with whatever they have been experimenting with lately is refreshing and it often has a great nuance to it which is better appreciated once you’ve heard where they started from.
Unfortunately, instead of embracing new chimeras and convulging sounds, many people tend to look at bands who have changed in a negative light. In doing this, we can unintentionally reinforce a concept of music as a product rather than an art form. Artists naturally go through periods and phases. Think about painters or sculptors we talk about “blue periods” or stretches of time where certain themes were foundational to that artist’s work. The same is true of musicians. Just because they became popular during a given period doesn’t mean that period is going to remain cryogenically frozen. They are producing new work, and so the flavor of that work is going to be new as well, simply by virtue of the fact that the person writing it is not the same as the person who wrote the last album. If art is a reflection of ourselves and humans are in constant flux then art too must change and flex to accommodate metamorphoses of the creator.
So next time you are on spotify or YouTube or the iTunes Store, or wherever you listen to and discover music, look up some of your old favorites. Approach things, as always, with an open mind and you may find changes in an artist’s sound which quite comfortingly (or unsettlingly) reflect the changes in yourself