- People’s sense of identity is very closely related to the music they like
- People stop listening to new (categories of) music after the age of 33
It can therefore be argued that the identity formation process gradually slows down and almost completely stops after the age of 33.
This crude syllogism of (musical) identity bothers me. I have always been listening to new music, and I never really understood a thing about my own identity. Maybe I should solve the identity problem by not listening to new stuff anymore, and become a true anti-capitalist revolutionary (with dogmatic rules for acceptable behaviour), or a social liberal, valuing personal freedom more than anything else, or a nerdy, slightly anti-social intellectual, understanding at least the theory of quality and value.
It would make life easier, but fuck, only listening to the same artists, the same style, the same songs…that’s like never having to wonder what to wear because all you have is pine-striped suits and broken white shirts. And I just wonder…if people suddenly get divorced, or lose their job, or simply go through midlife or menopause…does that change the music they listen to? Does the urge to buy a red sports car and get yourself a 20 year old girlfriend come with the discovery of contemporay R&B and Pop music, or just result in an infantile rediscovery of teenage favourites? Do life-changing events affect one’s identity?
Probably not. Probably people just stay mentally married, with a stable job, a mortgaged house, secured savings on the bank, 2 or 3 (lovely) kids and a nice set of friends. Who would even want to regress to the insecurities of being a teenager.
Yeah, I’m screwed. I’m not married, I have no mortgaged house, and a rotating set of friends. On top of it I just keep adding new music to my collection on an almost daily basis. So…am I running away from the failure of keeping a stable identity, not really belonging anywhere? And…should I thank or curse the music for it? Should I beg my musical heroes for forgiveness, for not giving them enough attention, and using them in building a stable identity. I could have used:
David Bowie for my queer individuality
Leonard Cohen for the intellectualism of a real man
The Clash for idealism, blind optimism and hope
Joy Division for its counterpoint; the desperation of a true romantic
Nick Cave for the art of storytelling
PJ Harvey for fucked-up introspection and intelligent observation
Nina Simone for disobedience and resistance
Lana del Rey for staying outside-in or inside-out
Roxy Music for style, period.
Kraftwerk for precision and hidden (and misunderstood) emotion
The Pixies for all-round fucking weirdness
But…I can’t choose. I love them all in equal measure, and deep down I know that all of them would want me to build, rebuild, design and redesign whatever can be called identity. Every new piece of music just adds to my identity and makes it a tiny bit more complex (and hopefully a bit more interesting)Tweet