Are People Still Passionate About Music?

“Are people still passionate about music the way they used to be?”

My boss posed this question during a marketing meeting on Tuesday. There were five of us sitting around a table, eating lunch and discussing sales and marketing strategies for the company. This followed a rather heated debate over the significance of traditional retail stores in today’s online- and digital-centric marketplace. (As an aside, I have wondered how my company could continue to successfully thrive from the moment I set foot in the enormous warehouse on my first day and saw row upon row of CDs. I joke that this organization is living in an alternate universe circa 1998 or so. Aren’t CDs nearly extinct, after all? And we still rely on AIM for interoffice instant communication. I didn’t know that program still existed! Sometimes after work I feel like sending a page to Tara’s beeper letting her know I’ll be late because I’m stopping by Tower Records, and then kicking back at home and watching the latest episode of Seinfeld, but then I remember it’s actually 2012. Anyway, we’re still selling CDs, so something is working out right. Go figure).

Anyway, I had to restrain myself from jumping out of my chair and responding in the affirmative, because I’m new and don’t want to portray myself as being too excitable. Gotta maintain that cool professionalism, don’tcha know. But the answer to that query was screaming around inside my brain.


I’ve mentioned before my love of music, and how important it is to me. It’s one of the biggest interests that Tara and I have in common and, in fact, was crucial in bringing us together. Our second meeting – the one that ended up being the foundation for our entire relationship and changed the course of both of our futures – happened because of our mutual love for music (we’d planned to attend a concert together). The first time I met her family, we were in town for a music festival. And once she moved in, the next two months were a whirlwind of live shows big and small, of amphitheaters and clubs and arenas. And there are plenty more concerts on tap. Next month is Music Fest Northwest. One of the biggest perks of my job is picking up free music; yesterday I came home with a vinyl copy of Jack Johnson’s “Brushfire Fairytales” that cost me nothing, and can’t wait to spin that disc on the ol’ Victrola. (OK, Crosley record player, but whatever). Even now I’m jamming to Pink Floyd while blogging. And it is impossible for me to get through a workday without a steady stream of Spotify playlists emanating from my speakers. Are people still passionate about music, my boss dares to wonder out loud? What a silly question, I think.

I mean, Tara and I can’t be the only ones, right?

Sundays, I never left home without my boombox.

Maybe we’re unusual. Perhaps today’s generation is more interested in video games and apps and movies. I don’t think either of my kids has ever purchased a record or CD in their life. Sure, they’ve downloaded songs from the internet, but that’s not the same. I was buying music when I was ten years old. Vinyl first, and then cassettes, followed by CDs. Now, with the welcome resurgence of LPs, it’s back to vinyl again. I remember discovering Elvis first, and then The Beatles. Religiously following Casey Kasem’s American Top 40, so obsessed that if we were going somewhere on a Sunday morning I’d bring along a portable radio so I wouldn’t miss out on the chart positions of every single song. I probably drove my parents batty, but I couldn’t help it: I wanted to know if Dexy’s Midnight Runners scored that elusive number one slot (they did; “Come On Eileen” was the song of the year in 1982) or whether The Dream Academy would ever have another hit after “Life In A Northern Town” (they did not – classic one-hit wonder band). I spent hours in Tower Records, combing through the bins for that perfect discovery. God, I miss that place.

That’s the beautiful thing about music: there is nothing more evocative in helping you to recall memories in your life. Hearing a song will often transport me back in time to a particular place and event. Bob Seger’s “Against The Wind” will always remind me of a warm summer night spent chasing fireflies and reflecting on the fleeting nature of youth. Cat Stevens and Paul Simon were the soundtrack for our road trips to New Jersey in the 70s. Miami Sound Machine’s “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You” was playing during graduation rehearsal. Nirvana’s anthem “Smells Like Teen Spirit” convinced me to trash all my crappy late-80s dance cassettes. “Freebird” played on the classic rock station when we drove Rusty home from the hospital the day after he was born, and when I visited Tara in Ely for the first time last September Sleigh Bells’ “Rill Rill” was playing on the stereo in her living room while I felt the first stirrings of love filling my heart. Every time I hear that song I think of those happy moments and I can’t help but smile.

See what I mean?

How can music not matter?

Is there a particular song that transports you back to a time and place in your life that would otherwise be long forgotten?


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

14 thoughts on “Are People Still Passionate About Music?

  1. Oh my friend…does music matter. Without it…well….I just don’t know. Music goes back to even biblical times. It’s always been a means of worship.

    I can’t begin to tell you how important music is. Of course, you already know. To listen to a song that you haven’t heard in years, and be transported to the time when you first heard it and the memories make your head spin and your heart ache…well…there is nothing better! Where my memories all lay in the liner notes of an LP, they also lay in the click-click-click of an 8-track and boy-oh-boy the cassette tape!

    What I wouldn’t give to live in simpler times!!

    Music is and always will be the “universal” language.

    Thanks for such an awesome post!!


    1. The Pink Floyd I was listening to while writing this post was “Animals,” so I knew you of all people would agree with me that music does matter. It’s obviously where Tara’s passion originates, so I thank you for that, Tracy. 8-tracks, eh? Those are the one type of medium I never owned. Thankfully, it sounds like!


  2. Mark, as I shared in my comment response to YOUR comment on my post, I think it’s ironic that we both posted about music today. I was actually going to post something more about my overall love of music, but then changed my mind.

    “Aren’t CDs nearly extinct, after all? ”

    OMG, you would die because I STILL listen to my music on CD’S!!!

    “That’s the beautiful thing about music: there is nothing more evocative in helping you to recall memories in your life. Hearing a song will often transport me back in time to a particular place and event. ”

    You are so correct about music, it DOES transport us to various memories in our lives. I once read somewhere that music and scents, have the strongest power of invoking memories.

    And the most wonderful thing about music, is that no matter what language we speak, we all HEAR the same notes!

    A song that strongly transports me to another time would be, “Midnight At The Oasis.” It reminds me of my senior year in HS.

    Have a grrrrrrrrrrreat weekend, buddy. Great post!


    1. “OMG, you would die because I STILL listen to my music on CD’S!!!”

      I’m very glad to hear that, Ron. It’s guys like you that are my company’s bread and butter!

      I remember you mentioning the fact that scent is also known to invoke strong memories in people. I almost mentioned that in my post, but didn’t nose how to incorporate it.

      Nose…ha. Pun intended…


  3. And the most wonderful thing about music, is that no matter what language we speak, we all HEAR the same notes!

    Seconded. Music is truly a universal language. I have friends who live around the world who I have met through our shared love of music and certain artists. And thats pretty damn cool.

    Mark, you know how much music means to me and my true love for it. You know how much artists like Jimmy Gnecco and Ryan Star have impacted my life and I’m better for it. There’s not a day that I don’t have music playing, be it at work, on the laptop while I’m surfing around the net, or playing pandora on my iphone while I’m cooking dinner. Shawn and I just acquired a record player and I really can’t wait for him to hook it up so we can use it (And yes, I do have a few vinyls.) 😉

    And CDs aren’t extinct – I still listen to them in my car because mainly I’m too lazy to hook up my ipod most of the time, if I’m just running errands, etc and because I have a 6-cd changer in the car.

    Anyway, music that transports me to another time:

    Lightning Crashes – Live – This song brings me back to high school And apparently I made Shawn a mix tape freshman year of high school and that was one of the songs on it.

    Ran Away to Tell the World – Ours. This song was one that wormed its way into my head after multiple listens of the album and its never left. It means so much to me because the lyrics speak to me so much.

    Ryan Star – 11:59. A general reminder to live in the moment because you never know what the next day will bring. When I’m having a shitty time of it, I listen to this and it helps. A lot.

    I could honestly recommend anything by Jimmy/Ours or Ryan. Its some of the best music I’ve ever heard.

    And, long comment is long. Um, sorry?


    1. I actually thought of you while writing this post, Sarah. I know how much music means to you, and figured you’d chime in with your two cents. Glad you did! You know, “Lightning Crashes” is another song that reminds me of Rusty’s birth: it was popular in the summer of ’95, and it’s all about having a baby. I’ll forever associate that with Rusty. (And also, for better or worse, Hootie & The Blowfish – they were huge that year).


  4. “Religiously following Casey Kasem’s American Top 40, so obsessed that if we were going somewhere on a Sunday morning I’d bring along a portable radio so I wouldn’t miss out on the chart positions of every single song. ” — hahah.. I did that too!! Even into the movie theater *grin*


  5. I felt CD’s were the ultimate tech and now it seems they are also heading to share print media’s grave yard. One thing I cannot figure out: When I put a Hendrix or Zep or Beatles CD in the car radio thing and go over bumpy roads, how does the needle stay in place and not make everything all scratchy?


  6. There are certain songs that do evoke feelings & memories, but as far as purchasing music anymore, it doesn’t happen. I prefer to listen to a station we have here in Edmonton called UP! 99.3 which plays upbeat music from across the decades. Driving to & from work I get my fix of great music & I love it. But I can’t remember the last time I put some music on at home.


  7. It is a trip that you wrote about music like this and then found my post. I find that I tend to not listen to newer music anymore as I’ve been getting older, or not as much of it. Most of what I listen to is at least 4 years old, if not older. You can imagine that would provide a lot of transportation back to old memories! 🙂 Great post!


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