I’m trying to figure out that moment when I stopped following current music.
In my case, it was somewhere in the middle 1980s, about the time Top 40 radio as we know it ceased to exist, replaced by a bewildering panoply of niche formats, each trying to squeeze out an Arbitron rating point or three. I managed to avoid it for almost twenty years, which no doubt explains why my 6700-track iTunes install on the work box has fewer recordings from the 1990s than from any other decade during which I was actually alive, excluding the current one, which has a few years to go yet. (Not that it matters, but the earliest track is from 1918.)
A few years back, I dialed back in. Radio obviously hadn’t improved in the interim, but my environment had changed: I had a coworker not quite half my age who was conversant with at least some of the current stuff, and she was happy to pass along suggestions, based on what sort of noises she’d heard me playing. And perhaps more to the point, the retail market had changed back to the way it was when I grew up: iTunes and other Internet music sources might officially be promoting albums, but they’d happily sell you the two or three tracks you wanted without making you take the seven or eight you didn’t.
Which is not to say that I quit buying albums. Mostly, though, they’re either from relatively recent acts or reissues of stuff I missed the first time around. (Examples of the latter: Rudy Van Gelder’s remastered editions of John Coltrane’s Blue Train and Miles Davis’ Birth of the Cool.) I have mentioned my fondness for She & Him, the duo of Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward, and for Trent Reznor’s recent soundtrack work with Atticus Ross. And yes, I have all three Rebecca Black singles: she has yet to release an actual album.