The Reason for Music Nostalgia
Most people want to say that music was the best in their generation. The 60s! The 70s! Hey people even miss the early 2000s. Of course people will miss the music that they first listened to or related to, it’s special because the first time you have nothing to compare to and can only use your taste to decide what you think sounds good or bad.
No judgment on the lyrics either because you could probably barely understand the full song or if you did understand it you probably only needed about 5 or 10 seconds to say it was good. So then you fast forward to when you’re in your 20s (or whatever age) and this is the typical period where you start noticing what is playing on the radio might not be doing it for you or the latest popular songs just don’t satisfy your audio palette. Maybe it’s always the same typical beat or the lyrics are too basic for you. For some people the music may be too trashy and don’t recall ever hearing music like this from their time. So is the music today worse than the music from the “good old days”? Let’s break it down (no this not a pun).
First, music is expression of something, usually it’s a feeling. When people express what they feel and another person relates that is a recipe for a song to be successful. That doesn’t mean success makes the song any good, it just means a lot of people feel similar. Second, the songs you first related with are probably not fully understood the first time you hear them. Why? Because it could be a song about something you haven’t actually experienced yet like love or heartbreak (typical topics in music).
So even if you like the beat or the message or both you won’t always get it the first time. It’s like math or science or anything you learn. The first time you understand the steps but as you grow a new dimension develops in the things you think you understand. Something simpler and that everyone experiences from a young age is friendships. Friends can take many forms: light friendships, friends who only talk at school or work, and deep, lifelong friends and friendships that require effort to make work otherwise they fall apart. All types of friends give people different experiences and emotions that help them grow.
How does this relate back to music?
When you compare the song you first liked when you were younger (whatever age that is) then you need to realize the person you are now has a different perspective. So the understanding on old songs has an attachment of the first time and a new understanding of the lyrics or the music. What about when you listen to songs today? There is usually no attachment. At least not unless it sounds similar to something you listened to from before and that is hard to find. With your growth and development it will always be hard for new songs to compete with anything from your childhood.
For example if you love Michael Jackson songs from the 70s and try to listen to something like a Bruno Mars song which could be similar it might just remind you of how much you like Michael’s songs and won’t start making you like Bruno’s songs. Then there is the lyrics. It could be that the new stuff isn’t your taste or is too “open”, “liberal”, “political”, or “provocative”.
Music is free to be an expression of almost anything so there is nothing wrong with having taste. But just know that many people will say that their generation had the best songs. Safe to say it’s not everyone who will say that but at least you can get a look into why that is and understand them a little better (and maybe yourself too).