My name is Bob, and I’m a tune-aholic.
I never thought that this would happen to me. I’ve always thought that music was the same as any other hunger or craving: partake or even indulge, and then you’ll be sated for a while. However, for me anyway, the opposite happens. The more music I listen to, the more I crave. It’s like walking into a movie theatre – you may not have been hungry as you walk through the door, but as soon as you smell that popcorn, you want some, and you’re willing to pay an exorbitant price for it. That freshly-popped smell creates an induced hunger. Music seems to create an induced hunger in me, and right now there seems to be no end in sight.
Before you judge me too harshly, let me say that it all started innocently enough… like everyone else, I started buying vinyl LPs and 45s as a teenager, and then graduated to compact discs in my 20s, when the (then new) format began to supplant records.
When I entered the working world, I considered myself fortunate. Most of the companies I’ve worked for over the years have allowed their employees to listen to music at their cubicles – as long they used headphones. Looking back, I now recognize this as the tipping point that pushed me down the slippery musical slope. Previously, I listened to music only during my free time, and while driving; now I could listen to music all day, every day.
My first MP3 player was only 256MB and could hold about 60-70 songs; after a week I’d heard each song several times, so I would purge the player’s memory and fill it up with new material. My next MP3 player was 1GB, and it too was filled to capacity soon afterwards. Within 2-3 months I was already familiar with its contents and had to freshen the playlist every few days.
My record and CD collection, which I had enjoyed for decades, and which was growing slowly over the years, suddenly seemed lacking. The music of my youth suddenly wasn’t enough any more – I was familiar with all of the songs and needed new material. So I studied the gaps in my collection and started buying more CDs in order to achieve a more comprehensive collection. I then started moving backwards in time – buying music from the late, mid and early 1970s. Even though I was too young to hear them when they were hits on the radio, they provided a solid addition to my music collection.
I then moved into the psychedelic era of the 1960s, and experienced an entirely new style of pop music with their more complex musical structures, Eastern influences, colourful album covers and whimsical lyrics.
Still, it wasn’t enough. I kept moving backwards absorbing the Beatles, the Beach Boys and all of the doo-wop music I could find. Next, I encoded my classical collection, and then my modest jazz collection. I was the musical equivalent of the Borg, from the Star Trek: The Next Generation, assimilating everything that I encountered.
I’ve contemplated this affliction, and my best guess is that this insatiable hunger seems to be a combination of my continual desire for novelty, my love of (or possibly lust for) music, and my desire to finally own all of the albums that I couldn’t afford to buy as a teenager.
I’ve always thought that my brain was similar to a hard drive – it occupies a finite amount of space, and therefore must have a finite storage capacity. Eventually it will fill up completely and I will finally feel satisfied with my collection. However, there seems no end in sight – it’s as if more neural storage space is created with each CD purchase. Occasionally at work, my iPod will play a song and I’ll think “Hey – I just heard this tune three days ago! I don’t want to hear it again so soon – it’s still fresh in my mind! What kind of shuffle play algorithm is this?”.
I think I may have uncovered the dark side of neural plasticity…
Finally, my question to you is: am I the only one who is affected by this induced and increasingly ravenous musical appetite, or does this also happen to you? Please write your comments in the box below and let me know if you also suffer the pangs of this induced and continual musical hunger.