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Nikki Stout writesThe Times They Are Uncertain

Turning over the record, I find myself performing a ritual I have done thousands of times, yet the moment strikes me as being grounding in a way that I can only describe as resonant.

Music always has been, and always will be, in part, about connection. It is community through tempo and synapse. The pulse of time, history, and location reflects parts of ourselves back onto us.

It’s never been easier to access music we love, and yet it’s also never been more imperative to distance ourselves from physical community for its – and our – own sake. In these dissonant times, I have been taking a more traditional approach to music consumption. Allowing myself to fully submerge into full records, cover to cover, side to side, and having the space to explore discographies with the depth and intention I have always dreamed of has been a journey of immense comfort.

In a way, this is taking what is, for many of us, a majority digital experience and turning it analog – even if in these moments we are still streaming.There is no convenient skip track button to get to the point when, “This is all over,” whatever that may mean. There is no pause button, either. We’re driving ever-forward into anxious uncertainty.

What we do have is the option to slow down. We have the sudden gift of time to explore the proverbial liner notes of the actions we take in the face of crisis. And really, there has never been a tonic to manipulate the warping of time as strong as music. We travel by it, we depend on it to get us through a workout, we escape into it when the weight of time becomes too much to bear. We outrun both each other and ourselves through soundtracks of our own choosing.

Applying this art of escapism to our circumstances is worthwhile in ways that are impactful now and in the future. In an exploration of connection at a distance, swimming in lyrics and melody allows us to feel seen. It imparts onto us the wisdom that the minutiae of the human experience is not only capable of being understood, it can be sculpted into sine waves and scales that give us goosebumps and heavy eyelids.

In this way, we have never been closer. In taking the time to listen – not just to hear, but to truly listen – we are allowing ourselves to be opened up to who, how, and what we really are. It creates a space of empathy, of understanding, and of healing.

“When this is all over,” is an unknown. What remains, though, is the fact that we are given the choice to align ourselves with the artists who see and know us. For those of us who have the means, supporting local artists through Bandcamp, direct merchandise purchases, or in some cases their GoFundMes is increasingly vital for the continuation of this work. We must allow this moment to change us; and we must leverage our privilege to let the work continue.  A future bloom is drawing near, but it is our responsibility to sow the seeds.

 

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