No, no, I’m not talking about T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (although it is one of my favorite poems of all time). I’m talking about growing up, and growing old.
Today, on my way to pick up my daughter from daycare, I heard part of a Trent Reznor interview with NPR’s Melissa Block. I caught the interview toward the end, and I ended up listening to it tonight after she went to bed. However, from the bit that I heard in the car, something stood out to me that Trent said (yes, I call him Trent because that’s what my friends and I called him when I was in 9th and 10th grade–and yes, we listened to Nine Inch Nails when I was a teenager, and I don’t know what that means.)
Trent said to Melissa Block,
I’ve kind of watched with amusement as the press has latched on to ‘Reznor, now 48, happily married with two kids and an Oscar winner,’ as if I can be summed up as that now. ‘He made a song with a major chord in it that we don’t understand’ is something that references Joy Divisionand New Order. It’s pop-punk. That’s the tagline for who I am now. I’m not the same person I was 20 years ago, and I’m happy to not be that person. When I’m onstage, the songs that we’ve chosen to play from the back catalog are things that still resonate with me and matter to me, and when I’m in those songs, I get transported into those songs. It can be draining to go through that.
Whoa, Trent, whoa.
So, Trent and I are years apart. I’m in my mid-30s, he’s in his late-40s. We’re different people. And it’s not that Trent has kids and I have kids and that makes me feel old. No. What stuck with me as I drove in the later afternoon was the feeling that this man had penned songs that meant something to me when I was younger. R.E.M. meant something to me when I was younger too, but that is different. I’m not a Nine Inch Nails fan, but I had friends who were. Nine Inch Nails is part of a certain period of my life, and listening to those songs I listened to back then (some of them aggressive, some of them precious, some of them harsh, some of them obscure) transport me to a different time and place. NIN’s The Downward Spiral was a staple of my middle school/high school years, what the cool alternative kids in Puerto Rico were listening to. (They were not listening to R.E.M., in case you were wondering.)
So hearing Trent Reznor talk about how he didn’t play some of his old songs any more made me smile. It felt like he was admitting he had outgrown some of the songs, and it reminded me that it was okay to outgrow some of the songs/artists that you once upon a time listened to. It doesn’t mean we’ve become uncool as we grow up–maybe we do, but that has nothing to do with the music we listen to or don’t. That’s who I was. And I still love music. I just…I don’t know. Maybe I’m listening to something different (in the music, not just in terms of artists). It’s…weird. I still recognize myself in some of those old tracks I play, tracks by Aterciopelados, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, Toadies, Nirvana, etc.
It also takes the pressure off of me to try to keep up with music nowadays. Seriously, I can’t keep up, folks. I listen to NPR and sports radio in my car, for goodness sake. I get my new album recommendations from folks I follow on Facebook or Twitter. Or in this case, NPR.
I’ll be listening to the newest by NIN (which came out on September 3rd, by the way). In the meantime, here’s an oldie from my high school days. Don’t laugh.
NIN, “Hurt” (1994)