I don’t know if it’s this way for anyone else, but for me, buying and listening to music just isn’t the same as it used to be. It used to be more like a ritual, an immersive experience. Whether it was holing up in my bedroom (as pictured) with headphones and accompanying booklet or wearing out the tape in the cassette as I drove around, listening to both sides over and over for days or weeks, buying a new (whether actually new or just new to me) album of music was much more than just an acquisition of new media. These days, it goes pretty much as shown on the right. I still don’t think I’ve heard more than one song from P.O.S.’s latest album, We Don’t Even Live Here, despite buying it last fall. And I love P.O.S. But, for the most part, music serves merely as a backdrop for work or a run or in rare instances a commute (that’s what NPR is for, right?), whereas in younger years, it was more like the soundtrack, the score.

A lot of this has to do with the way we have changed all media from individual works to merely indistinctive “content.” We amass digital collections of stuff, with which there’s not that visceral reaction or interaction. This probably explains why I can point out iconic comic book, magazine or album covers from the 1970s, ’80s and even ’90s to an extent, but everything now just seems like a blur. Some of that is just age. Some is the reality of adult life. But the fact is, even in the early 2000s, when I was very much living an “adult” life (wife, job, 99 problems, etc.), I still interacted with music and other creative media in essentially the same way I did pre-internet. I was slow to adopt buying commercial music digitally (even though I was on the forefront of producing and selling it in the late 1990s); I didn’t even own a CD player not attached to a computer until 2001; I’ve never owned an iPod or dedicated digital music player save for the Shuffle I took from Sara a few years ago to use at the gym.

But I have become an iTunes music listener/buyer (though I prefer Amazon MP3 for a variety of reasons, price and portability among them) in the last decade, and the only way for me to listen to new music purchased digitally in, say, my car is to burn it to a CD (because, yes, I have an old-school car stereo with no USB ports or audio jacks – a step up from my previous car, which still had a TAPE DECK). And because I primarily only drive to commute, I mostly listen to NPR in the car, because that’s also the only time I have in my life to get caught up on news and world events. It’s why I rarely know what’s going on in the world of pop culture, my own city, or anything else not covered on Morning Edition or Here & Now.

However, I think I’ve digressed enough. Besides, I have work to do. It’s the only way I get to hear my music, don’t you know?