How to listen to music

If you are in 1982, watch MTV on your living room cabinet television that’s all wood exterior, with your big brother. Be enamored of cool and strange music videos, and slightly puzzled by the extra-sexy videos.  You can also flip through the family record collection and listen to the stereo with the great big giant tuning knobs.

If you are in 1987, listen to oldies in the car with your mom, and sing the good ones at top volume on your way to the lake in the summer. Preferably while holding a half-finished 20 oz red Slurpee. Don’t forget your sunscreen at the lake. Also, you should continue watching MTV, and get your own tapes. You can listen to those on your mom’s Walkman, or on the cool all-in-one dual deck stereo from K-Mart you’ll get at Christmas. Continue listening to the family vinyl, especially the Beatles albums. Those are important.

Also remember to play with pencils and cassette tapes, and make mix tapes with your new dual deck stereo.

If you are in 1989, add “listening to Madonna albums with your best friend” to your regimen.

If you are in 1992, start buying the occasional CD in their extra-big cardboard packaging that’s apparently meant to keep people from stealing them out of the mall music store, but are in fact just stupid wastes of material. Become deeply enamored of the booklet style liner notes that some of the CDs come with, complete with lyrics. If a record, cassette, or CD doesn’t  come with lyrics, there is no way to determine for SURE what is being said in the third stanza, and you will have to debate it endlessly with friends. Listen to a lot of Tears for Fears and Depeche Mode.

Also, go and see some live concerts at the open-air pavilion with your mom, or at the amusement park concert venue, preferably with friends or cousins. Get a t-shirt.

If you are in 1994, listen to the radio in your car, which will play a lot of Nirvana and Live. Also, get Napster. Download everything you can think of. Burn it on CD whenever your brother gets a CD burner. Get irritated when Napster finally goes kablooey. Also, get a CD walkman, and a cassette converter for your car, so you can listen to CDs in the car. Some time later, get a new CD walkman when they introduce anti-skip.

If you are in 1997, get last-second tickets to your favorite band, Spin Doctors, that just happens to be in town when you’re vacationing there. DO NOT go hiking with your new husband and get sick, or you will miss the concert.

If you are in 1998, get a 6-disk CD changer.

If you are in 2004, get an iPod.

If you are in 2017, get a ukulele. Learn to play it slowly over the next three years.

If you are in 2019, get Bluetooth headphones and the lowest version of paid-for Pandora, so you get no ads. Listen to stations that mix in things you’ve never heard before, because your friends no longer force you to keep up with music, and the radio is too full of ads. Watch your children create YouTube playlists of their favorite music, which largely consist of music composed for video games, and which is surprisingly really good.

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