The Skip Button Has Been Removed…

Stories. One after another. I mean that’s what songs really are, right? An artistic take on life expressed in no more than 8 characters. Sure they climb up and down the octaves like little ants on tiny ladders, but ultimately the poetry of sound is born out of just a handful of primitives. To think of it, it’s mind-boggling, to listen to it, it’s transporting. Someone else’s world, their stories, their feelings in your living-room. You find that they’re suddenly yours as well. You didn’t buy the rights to listen to her life when you handed over your hard-earned cash for that new Brandi Carlile album, nah, it’s far more than that. It’s a ticket to that special corner of her thoughts and soul. It’s an invitation to be part of it, resonate with it, make it your own.

We don’t listen to music anymore. So few of us sit down, pour a drink, put a record on and listen to it from start to end. Side A was soul-embracingly intimate, but hang on, the story hasn’t ended, there’s more they want to share with you on side B. You’re the misunderstood snob who gets up half-way through the album, to flip the record over. They really don’t get it, do they? All the digital fetishists with their Apple Music and Spotify playlists full of mere breadcrumbs of stories, out of sync, out of context. There’s no coherence, it’s only the bits we like, because those are the bits everybody else liked as well. The hits. Take That’s best song ever, “Wooden Boat” is by far one of the least known songs out there, because too few have listened to the entire album.

No, we created ourselves a world where we want to keep and own only the bits we like. A curated version of their stories, our story, of who we are, our dreams, fears, successes and failures. Except that’s not how life or music works. Leonard Cohen’s post-humous album “Thanks for the Dance” proves that. It’s the perfect end to an imperfect story, to a tough, poetic life. Because… call me a fool, a dreamer, whatever you will, that’s what life is — poetry. No, we’ve created a world, where we think we’re above all the poetry. We stuck the AirPods into our ears and stopped listening to the real music, the real buzz of life. We’re looking for the latest beats while we deafen our own heartbeat. We have turned music into a background companion to our daily commutes, our chats at the pub, with the finger always ready to skip a song. Because we can…

Brandi Carlile says it all in “Stories”. Stories are meant to be told, but if there is no one to listen to them, then what’s the point? What happened to those quiet moments when you sit and listen to your heartbeat, to a song, to an entire album, song after song, every chapter of the story? When did we become “puppets” of our own lives?

When did we become so comfortable with the strings? Life has no skip button, nor does the record player. The breaths we take between the moments like empty grooves between the tracks, that’s all there is. We get to pause and ponder for a second, but then the record plays on, life goes on, while the skip button has been removed. It was never there to begin with. We fabricated a world where the full story is somehow too painful, too long to pay attention to, it’s suddenly too much to cope with. Of course it is. When you stop standing still, you stop listening, when you stop flipping the record to the other side, the music gets lost, poetry loses its rhyme and the story never gets heard.

Listen to the story…

Writer of code, blogs and things that live on the web. Pragmatic doer, Lego fan, Mac user, cool nerd. JavaScript and Flutter enthusiast. HMH.engineering editor.

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