It’s easy at a time like this to start viewing music as trivial, as inessential, as disposable; as something we can cancel and forget. The last few months have been tough. They’ve delayed tours, eliminated annual festivals from the calendar, and left artists unable even to play bars for half-attentive audiences—let alone arenas for hordes of fans. They’ve cleared concert halls, halted opera and symphony seasons, and shut the lights down on Broadway. They’ve made album release days feel almost frivolous, because how can we spend our days talking about or digesting new music when the world seems to be falling apart around us? They’ve caused music writers in my Twitter feed to ponder out loud whether their jobs have meaning or relevance at a time like this. Amazon indirectly labeled books and music as inessential by calling a temporary halt to shipments of physical media like vinyl and CDs.
And yet, in other ways, the past four months have underlined why music matters so much. People in countries like Italy and Spain were quarantined and locked down, unable to interact with one another or even leave their homes. They found solace, connection, and communal emotion by playing or singing together from their balconies. We’ve perhaps never been so cognizant of the physical distances between us. I certainly can’t recall another situation where keeping apart from others was not just a personal choice but a mandate. And yet, music has been forging invisible bridges across those gaps in the air, allowing hearts and voices and melodies to join even in a year where “social distancing” has become a part of our collective vocabulary.Read More “Why Music Still Matters”