Watchword for the Week of June 8, 2014:
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service,
but the same Lord. 1 Corinthians 12: 4,5
I’m listening to Pandora Radio right now. I have it tuned to an ambient/classical background music sort of channel. In case you’re unfamiliar with Pandora (or other similar services), it is a way to listen to highly customizable music choices through the internet. If you have a taste for East Coast Hip Hop interspersed with dashes of 70’s Rock and Orchestral Metal, or if you’re in the mood for a mix of Motown plus Michael W. Smith’s Greatest Hits along with a splash of Broadway Show Tunes, this is a cheap way for you to develop your perfect playlist. In fact, Pandora goes by the slogan: “It’s a new kind of radio—stations that only play music you like.” With Pandora, Spotify, iTunes, Serius XM and all the others, there is really no reason in this world to ever again have to listen to a song you don’t adore. Just press “skip.”
I applaud that there are so many varieties of music easily accessible these days. If I want to find a fiery Brazilian samba or a haunting Andean folk melody, a wild Zydeco tune or the national anthem of Fiji, it’s all available to be discovered. But it’s also all available to be avoided.
I sometimes lament that we seem to be lacking a common soundtrack for our times. For those of us hovering around the half century mark, who among us didn’t listen to American Top 40 with Casey Kasem every week? Sure, it meant we might have had to endure a Fleetwood Mac song while waiting for an Abba song to play (or visa versa), or we may have been exposed to one of those country crossover hits while knowing we wanted to hear Styx (or visa versa). But didn’t that, in some ways, bind us together generationally? Didn’t that, unbeknown to us at the time, encourage us to appreciate something outside of our own tastes and interests? Didn’t that, in a subtle way, shape a smidgeon of patience within us?
Our world offers us a smorgasbord of choices in most arenas, and through technology, we also have quite a lot of control. However, I rather fear that the trade-off for all of those plentiful choices and all of that control is isolation. Instead of being united under the broad category of “music,” we’re left alone and lonely with only our ear buds to share in the refrain.