Last year I made this info graphics calendar plotting information from the Promo Only charts in conjunction with Billboard charts, and for one month I chose to use people’s youtube comments to certain songs, atleast the ones that were interesting and had a story. I’ve found myself just browsing youtube comments looking for these now, and I get such great feeling out of reading some of them – people definitely pouring their hearts out about how a song changed their life, or a quick anecdote about the song, or just a vivid memory it evokes – all in five hundred characters or less. I admit, youtube comments are not mainly known for their nostalgic qualities – there is a fair amount of ‘debate’, profanity, and trolling you’ll have to sort through, but there are gems once in a while. You almost get caught up living these people’s memories vicariously. (I’m going to start commenting my memories on youtube music vids just for posterity, and in hopes to satisfy other people’s memory urges. Surely I’m not the only one that trawls youtube just to read comments. I encourage ya’ll to do the same.)
I brought up this notion of ‘feeling nostalgia for things i’ve never experienced’ in a previous entry, but after some more research (googling) I figured out the somewhat agreed on term: false nostalgia. Taking into account false nostalgia, I fear it’s hard for me to separate actual memories from false memories – not false in a sense that they aren’t true, but moreso affected/embellished by the environment, the media, the music, and now shared nostalgia that happens on the internet. Obviously writing down a memory will help solidify it, but every retelling might start to mutate it slowly – almost as if you’re playing a long game of telephone with yourself every time – until the end result is wildly different from the actual memory. There’s also the kind of mindfuck you get when you have really great memories of a movie, and then rewatch it, and you realize it’s absolute doodoo. (as a kid, lots of things are pretty awesome though. have you tried rewatching 3 ninjas? absolute drivel.)
My interest in false nostalgia is no doubt related to music and memories, but I’m ashamed to admit that it only dawned on me now that the notion of ‘the good old days’ is a perfect example of false nostalgia. American politicians crooning about the days of yore, ‘real’ America, tradition, white picket fences and a time of innocence, ah how it would be so great to return to those days. Or probably not. By painting the past in an unrealistic light, we give credence to the argument that the current is in a state of malaise. Not to say that it currently isn’t, all things considered, but to say that it was much better back then? False, bro. And since the notion of nostalgia/memories are innately strong in humans, it’s quite exploitative to use false nostalgia as a means to gain power.
With that in mind, can I really (really) say that the music of now is shit, and that the music back then was better? Hm. Let me preface: I don’t listen to the radio and have not heard many new songs, hell I just heard my first Drake song a few weeks ago. I rarely look for new music, but when I hear something that I like I’ll keep listening – old or new. In all honestly, my iTunes playlist is usually all funk or 90s r&b, and I might binge on a couple of new songs here and there (right now it’s Love King) but I tend to stay old school. So is music now shit? I don’t think so. Music now, albeit marketed and derivative, is serving a purpose – a demand – that is indicative of this time period. Music is not shit, it’s just changing, for better or for worse, and some people are resistant to change. Years from now, kids born in the late 90s/00s will look back on this era and be like ‘do you remember ima be? good times’, and those songs will be their nostalgic cues to memories they’re creating right now. I’m almost shuddering at the thought.
However, my shuddering is part of a stereotype that will relive itself for ages: the old folk who complain about the culture of the now, and how it will never compare to their youth. Well, no shit, it won’t compare, because it’s different. And for those that say the people that only listen to old shit are denying themselves good music and are generally hermits – do you, i’ma do me.