Nostalgia and Play Music

Over the years my taste in music has changed. When I was a kid, it was The O’Jays, Michael Jackson, Donna summer, Blondie and anything with a big, fun sound that made you want to move. As I hit my twenties, my taste in music changed. The Cocteau Twins, Nina Hagen, Laurie Anderson, Lena Lovich and just about anything alternative had my ears.

Although I always had an interest in jazz, it wasn’t until I hit my thirties that I really got into it, having discovered such greats as Chet Baker, Johnny Hartman, Dizzy Gillespie, Coltrane, and the illustrious Nina Simone, who I listened to for a month straight. I could not get enough of her rich and honest voice. Peppered throughout the years was always something fast and danceable, which explains groups like The Chemical Brothers, The Black Eyed Peas, and The KLF in the mix.

I’m now in my early fifties and own an eclectic range of music. Some of what I once owned on cassette tape is gone, and what I cherished the most at any particular time was purchased on CD. And yes, my CD collection is a wide range of music that fits just about any mood.

When MP3s came out, I started downloading my music onto my computer and picked up an MP3 player. Music had become portable and it was easy to switch from one album to another without having to hunt through piles of CDs or read narrow spines. I brought music to the gym, on walks or anywhere I felt the need.

And then smart phones came into the mix, and with that the ability to have your music on your phone, ready to listen to in your car or speakers via Bluetooth. This was followed by the cloud and Google Play Music. I jumped on that train pronto and began the long journey of uploading all my music to Play Music so I could enjoy anything at any time. What was great about this time in my life (I was in my forties) was that it brought back some of the music I hadn’t listened to in years. It was like meeting an old friend and spending a day reminiscing. What was old was new again, and I jammed to tunes I hadn’t heard in decades, fondly reliving some of the memories they brought back.

Then music streaming subscriptions came into the picture. By that time all my music was on Play Music, so why would I want to pay a monthly fee for a subscription? I used the free Play Music service for the times I wanted to listen to something new, or was sick of my music collection. This is how I found out about Andra Day and a few others. The commercials didn’t bother me, I thought of it as an alternative to radio. Subscription streaming was for kids who hadn’t lived long enough to have a decent music library, not for us older folk.

This past December, Google handed out a free four month Play Music subscription. At first I balked, thinking I didn’t need it. But as much as I told myself it wasn’t necessary, I was still curious about what it could bring. I thought, what they heck, and signed up.

Because the Play Music subscription was like a new toy, I delved into it with glee. The first artist I looked for was Betty Davis, whose music I’ve never owned but always enjoyed. It as so great to hear her funky soul music again. I then started thinking about the ’80s, so I found playlists like Sophisticated ’80s and the ’80s in 12 Inches. These playlists had some of the music I always enjoyed, but never owned. Groups and artists like Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Style Council, Everything but the Girl, Peter Murphy, Robbie Robertson rushed back like a tsunami of the past. I started looking for the CDs I didn’t own by Echo and the Bunnymen, The Smiths and Morrisey. It was overwhelming, and I was ready to be overwhelmed.

The free subscription does not give full access to the entire Play Music library, and I never delved into it enough to know if any of these artists and groups are available for free. With that said, I also started to save specific playlists and edit them, which you cannot do with the free plan. I also got to add my own music to these playlists, some of which are not available in Play Music. They also don’t have much for Nina Hagen. They don’t have Fearless, which I never bought on CD. Luckily I do own In Ekstacy, Love, and Street, none of which are on Play Music. They do have Nunsex/Monkrock, a must for any Nina Hagen fan, IMHO.

All that aside, going into my first month of the free Play Music subscription has been a blast. Despite the amazing nostalgia Play Music has brought up, I’m not sure if I’ll keep it after the four months are up. At some point I’ll go back to the jazz/soul and easy listening I’ve been enjoying in my present days (Corrine Bailey Rae, Melody Gardot, Amy Winehouse, Nina Simone, etc…). Come to think of it, there are some Madeleine Peyroux albums I’ve been meaning to hear, and I only own one Dave Brubeck…

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