The library is a great place to discover new music. Before you ridicule me for my lack of positive productivity in such an esteemed location, hear me out.
Everyone who is here is moving at a slower pace than anywhere else on campus. As I sit at the library typing, I notice a student reading a book for her English course. To her left, a student in a comfortable blue lounge chair appears to be typing his end of the year essay.
Listening to music in today’s age of accessible and affordable music streaming services means that people don’t need to expose themselves to music outside of their typical interests. Why would somebody need to acquaint themselves to something new when the songs we love are all at our fingertips?
Apple and the iPod forever changed the way that we managed our music. Opening up a digital store online meant that we could listen to our favorite albums or songs on the go, wherever we were. These were the last times that an album truly meant something to me.
When I was eight years old, I was in an accident that put me at the University of Michigan Trauma Burn Center for two months. After I was released, my mother and I still had to commute multiple trips a week for physical training.
During the 50 minute commute from Lansing to Ann Arbor, we learned that we could listen to an entire playthrough of Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory, which had a runtime of 49 minutes. I formed a relationship with that album that is hard to experience nowadays. I had related every song on that album with an emotion during that time in my life, and listening to those songs now will take me right back to those days.
Nine years later, while browsing vinyl records at Flat Black and Circular in East Lansing, I stumbled across a black and white album cover, featuring a little person dressed in drag apparel. This character was kneeling, hands together in a praying manner, and gazing to the right of the high-angle camera. To say I was anything less than hypnotized by this image would be a lie. There was no font on the album cover; I didn’t know what band this album was produced by.
I plunged deep into this album, mesmerized by its stark intimacy and endless depths of intricacy and nuance, too beautiful to comprehend. The album is Halcyon Digest by Deerhunter, and I haven’t had an emotional connection to an album so powerfully since. Listening to these songs individually, however, feels out of place now. These songs balanced each other out, and to single them out only one at a time left those tracks feeling slightly empty.
When we skip listening out on an album, we lose the context of what our favorite songs meant to that artist. I think that we often forget that when an album is released, a lot of thought has gone into the compositional arrangement of the tracks.
Listening to songs individually or in a curated playlist is fine, and there’s nothing wrong in doing so. I’m just as guilty as anybody else. In a fast-paced setting, such as university life, it can be difficult to sit down and experience an album.
If you’re looking for a quiet place to dive deep into your next favorite album, I highly recommend taking a trip to the slow, dawdling Olson library.