Does Music From Certain Years Appeal To You, More The Music From Other Years?

Synchro

The artist formerly known as: Synchro
Staff member
Jun 2, 2008
26,425
Tucson
Something I noticed, throughout my life, is that there are certain years where I seem to find a lot of songs to like, while other years, not so much. I’ve often wondered why this was the case. Conversely, there are other years where the music left me cold, and while there may be some songs of enduring popularity in those years, none of these songs seem to have any positive emotional value, to me.

This is a phenomenon I have noticed in myself, since childhood. Even when I was young enough thst I had relatively little life history to reflect upon, I can remember nostalgia for songs I remember having heard on the radio, in the past, but hadn’t heard lately. I also remember, after my older sister moved out on her own, turning on the radio and being disappointed, because the songs we had to which we had listened, together, were no longer getting airplay.

So the question becomes, is it me, or is it just a coincidence that some great songs came out during a certain year, or is this a product of conditions that particular year inspiring great music? At least, to begin with, I won’t post any of my favorite music years, because I don’t want to risk influencing the responses, but I’d be curious to hear the experiences of others, and if they have certain years when the music on the radio just seemed better.

One more thought is that I’m not talking about the year your favorite song was released, but am thinking in terms of years where there were a lot of songs that you liked, when it seemed like the songs being released just touched you as a listener.

What say you?
 

5120mantis

Country Gent
Mar 6, 2011
2,902
nj
It seems there's songs from these specific years '54 '55 '57 '67 '73 '76 '78 '82 '84 '86 '94 '97
 

General_Lee

Gretschie
Apr 23, 2022
324
Manitoba, Canada
I don't know about specific years, but music that came along in certain decades, or even periods within those decades, certainly seem to have greater or lesser effect on me. Barring the psychological realities that tie specific material to specific moments of one's life, thus influencing your like/dislike of a given tune(s), such as the ones you enjoyed with you sister, I've come to understand that most of the music I like comes from earlier decades. Rock of the 50s, 60s and early to mid 70s. Country of the 40s to the late 60s, then again for a short period in the early 90s (Vince Gill era). Jazz of the Cool Period.

Almost nothing of the past 30 years has impressed me much, with some exception for certain Blues artists and players. I will say that there are a few incredibly capable young players who are doing some great work at the moment (Lari Basilio tops my list). Other than that, I really can't point to specific years as being real watershed ones for me. Don't even get me started on some of the musical periods/styles I have no use for whatsoever. We'll just hip hop over those...
 
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Shock

Synchromatic
Sep 7, 2020
620
Minnesota
It is true. Some years were good for new music, and others not so much. 1971 was a great year. So was 1991. Not sure if it is coincidence, personal taste or a Back to the Future kind of thing.
 

Synchro

The artist formerly known as: Synchro
Staff member
Jun 2, 2008
26,425
Tucson
Great comments. I’m going to reserve some of my comments for a while longer, because I want to let things take their own direction, but I’m reading every answer and will be making some very specific answers.
 

Emergence

Synchromatic
May 25, 2022
570
New York
For me, coffee house music from the late ‘60s and country from before 2015. I got turned off by let’s get drunk and hook up in the back of my truck country. I like stories, not platitudes.
 

Bkat

Electromatic
Dec 8, 2013
62
Illinois
I think it's a combination. Out of sheer probability, certain years were invariably "better" than other years. Which doesn't mean "bad" years didn't have some good music lurking. In fact, I'd suspect every year had something new to offer if you dig deep enough. Just not as much?

But more than anything- and I think this holds true especially for our younger years- our life circumstances have had an effect on our perspective of "good" music years. I don't want to sound cliche, but for anyone who loves music, it's been the "soundtrack to our lives."

So in the spirit of your post, I'll ask a question back. You say that there are certain years where you've seemed to find a lot of songs to like. Are these new discoveries always of music new that year or is it a case that there were certain years where you may have simply made more music discoveries from a wide range of years/eras?
 

wabash slim

I Bleed Orange
Feb 10, 2010
18,312
lafayette in
It seems to me most folks are into the music from their formative years, their teens. I heard a lot of early '50s rock from having two older cousins around in those days. From the time Buddy Holly died till the Beatles showed up was a musical dark age. The era of my teens, from '63 on, had English Invasion and lots of garage bands, and is what I still often listen to. I also listen to classical, country, folk, Blues, Americana, and world music. I stopped listening to most mainstream pop in the '80s.
 

blueruins

Country Gent
May 28, 2013
4,813
Savannah, GA
1967 through 1970 is probably my favorite musical era. My favorite Beatles tunes, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, Led Zeppelin…just classic songwriting that was probably the pinnacle of achievement in pop music. Of course this coincides somewhat with my birthdate in ‘69 so it may be that colours my perception.

Then 1980-84 was another huge swath of songs I love. The Cars, Tom Petty, The Police, Ozzy, Iron Maiden, AC-DC and Rush were putting out amazing music.

1987 was a banner year for guitar when Surfing with the Alien was released. Probably the supreme evolution of the revolution that Eddie Van Halen started with his shot heard round the world; Eruption.

Post 1987 I started drifting backwards for the most part and discovering bands and artists from before my time who influenced the bands I loved.

This I’m sure lines up with my coming of age and the engagement with society, culture and art that we wrestle with at that age.

Everything thereafter seemed so derivative of the music I’d heard before that I have rarely found new artists as exciting or vital as those golden years.

Certainly from ‘64-‘87 saw an explosion of creativity that will not likely be seen again in our lifetimes.

That doesn’t really fit with the OP question but is best I can do without some serious research. I am not one of those organized thinkers who catalogs experiences/memories or even one who is very nostalgic.

It is an interesting question and I am looking forward to the insights and thoughts of others here on the matter.
 

Synchro

The artist formerly known as: Synchro
Staff member
Jun 2, 2008
26,425
Tucson
I think it's a combination. Out of sheer probability, certain years were invariably "better" than other years. Which doesn't mean "bad" years didn't have some good music lurking. In fact, I'd suspect every year had something new to offer if you dig deep enough. Just not as much?

But more than anything- and I think this holds true especially for our younger years- our life circumstances have had an effect on our perspective of "good" music years. I don't want to sound cliche, but for anyone who loves music, it's been the "soundtrack to our lives."

So in the spirit of your post, I'll ask a question back. You say that there are certain years where you've seemed to find a lot of songs to like. Are these new discoveries always of music new that year or is it a case that there were certain years where you may have simply made more music discoveries from a wide range of years/eras?
Great answer.

Ok, going back to my early years, I have fond memories of music from 1968, 1971, 1977 and 1980. In most cases, you could extend those years back a couple of months into the prior year, so I have a strong recall of taking note of music in late 1970, and just loving much of what I heard in 1971. 1977 and 1980, were much the same. There seems to be a three year cycle, but 1974, was not one of my favorite years for music.

So, the question, the burning question, reduces to this; were there differences in the music being released in those years, or is the difference in my receptiveness towards new music?

‘70 into ‘71, was a pivotal time period in my life. I had nearly died and worked my way back to health, over a period of several months. ‘76 into ‘77 involved some serious changes in my life, including a move of nearly 1,000 miles, and ‘79 into ‘80 involved more changes, and another move. So those good music years did coincide with significant life events, and I wonder if that plays a role. 1968 was the year my parents made a big move, so my nostalgia for that music could be sort of a homesickness sort of thing.

I would also state that the good music years were all years with a lot of social activities. All of the good music years tend to be good years, in their own right. They weren’t necessarily prosperous years, but they were years when I was building towards something good, in my life.

What prompted this thread, at this time, was the recent purchase of a couple of CDs, which I subsequently listened to on my daily bike rides. One CD was Fragile, by Yes. I had loved Roundabout, when it was getting airplay, and had heard other cuts of that album, back in the day, but hadn’t ever listened to the entire album. The sights and sounds of 1971 came right back to me. (The entire album impressed me. It was like Bach had written Rock n’ Roll.)

The second CD was Frampton Comes Alive, which I was spurred to explore after watching a Rick Beato video which analyzed some of Frampton’s work. I had heard the three singles, Baby I Love Your Way, Do You Feel Like We Do, and Show Me The Way. This album was played to death in late 1976 and I remember it as a seamless lead-in to the music of 1977, which gave us a lot of great music that happened that year.

But this goes a lot deeper. Nearly 20 years ago, I started to assemble collections of songs I would burn onto CDs, usually by year of release. My good-music years filled up fast, requiring at least two packed CDs, while some of the off years were slim pickin’s. As I recall, 1975 was especially challenging. Interestingly, 1975 was not a great year for me, overall.

I love to use music as a time machine. I’ve always had a good memory, and replaying songs from a particular era reminds me of various times on my life. With all of the ups and downs, there are some great moments to remember, and music was always a big part of life, back in those days. We talked about songs, played songs, sang along with the radio, and if there was something new on the airwaves, you can wager that my circle of friends would be talking about it.

I suspect that my “good-music-years” coincided with years when things were going well in the rest of my life, but in the next breath, I have to say that 1971, 1977 and 1980 did have some fine music.

To my way of thinking, 1971 was the year that Rock n’ Roll grew up. The introspective music of James Taylor, combined with adoption of more complex harmonic structures, led to some great creations.

Mudslide Slim - James Taylor, 1971
Tapestry - Carole King, 1971
Fragile - Yes, 1971
Led Zeppelin IV, 1971
Ram - Paul McCartney, 1971
L.A. Woman - Doors, 1971

‘77 was the year when Fleetwood Mac Rumors all but conquered the airwaves, But we were also listening to several tracks from Hotel California, Boz Skaggs Silk Degrees, the Little River Band’s Diamantina Cocktail, and the Atlanta Rhythm Section’s Rock and Roll Alternative. There was a lot of turf covered that year.

For me’ 80 was the same. Ambrosia did some fine R&B inspired material, and the Doobie Brothers were rivaling Steely Dan as a sophisticated R&B band. Jackson Browne had Hold Out, and Pink Floyd had The Wall. IIRC, Alan Parsons did ok too, that year. There was more Boz Skaggs, and plenty of good Pop singles, as disco ground to a halt.

Strangely, after about 1981, I all but quit listening to current music, and know very little about music after the ‘80s.
 

NJDevil

Country Gent
Jul 9, 2014
1,528
Commack, NY
I'm all over the map with "Classic Rock" from the late '60s thru mid '70s being huge on my listening list. I admit I'm a bit of an "80s junky and many friends are surprised to hear my crank out some Duran Duran, Depeche Mode and "one-hit-wonders" like "Voices Carry" by 'Til Tuesday or some Hall and Oates & Men At Work. The '90s were all about college and, getting a job and happy hour.....I didn't sleep much but a lot of cool tunes.

BUT.... If you ask me to sit down and listen for a few hours but keep it just 1 decade? 1940s....... I love just about everything from the '40s.
 

Ricochet

Senior Gretsch-Talker
Nov 13, 2009
22,295
Monkey Island
I haven't paid attention for the past 2 decades. It's generally all one big snooze fest to me.

The best year for me in terms of musical discoveries was when I was 13-15 so '79-'81 ish. My parents were not into music much but did have some big band orchestra albums, and my favourite, a Fats Domino album. So as I entered highschool I was pretty much a blank slate.

A buddy taped his Beatles albums for me, The Police and Blondie hit the charts. A neighbour kid loaned me his Van Halen, and Queen albums. Pretty soon I discovered Stray Cats, Deep Purple and ACDC. That was a whole universe of amazing and exciting sounds just between those. I was a spongue.
Music as a whole seemed to be moving, pulsing, evolving. I was into heavy rock but once harder hitting bands like Metallica hit in the '80s I got bored and extended my listening to other genres looking for that same excitement but rarely found it.

In my kitchen table analysis those years between '79-81 formed the foundation like a good pizza dough, everything else that followed was merely topping and interchangeable to less or more successful results.
 

oneforsorrow

Country Gent
May 15, 2020
1,083
Iowa
I love this question. I won't bother citing any particular year(s) for my personal perspective but I will say this:

I find that music hits me on 2 primary levels -- discovery and familiarity. The excitement of finding something new and the impact it has as it prints itself on my soul followed by the way it returns as an old friend sometime later when I need it most.

I subscribe to TapeOp and the editor in chief, Larry Crane once waxed about the role recorded music has in our lives. He asked the question -- how many times have you watched your favorite movie? how many times have your read your favorite book? how many times have you listened to your favorite album?

Music is just different. It's a touchstone for us throughout our lives. My CD collection is arranged alphabetically and then by release date. My relationship with artists coincides with the timeline of my life. Some artists only have a single representation whereas others have their full catalog (with bootlegs thrown in for good measure). I used to say that dating or getting to know someone should involve a simple exchange of the inventory of your music collections. I think that would be comprehensive enough to determine compatibility.

And while I'm taking a while to answer the OP' question, I think that our perspective of the quality of music directly correlates to the impact it has on us at the time it hits us. Maya Angelou is credited with saying,

“At the end of the day people won't remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”​

I think this applies to your question. I'm sure that your standards had to be met when you first heard the music that formed the memories you described but it's the way the music wove it's way into those moments of your life and created the feelings that you still carry that now informs your recognition of years as significant.
 

thunder58

Super Moderator
Staff member
Dec 23, 2010
27,191
tappan ny
I love just about everything from the '40s.
Hands down !
I've always enjoyed the 1940's music myself too . The harmonies , you just can't beat it . And the big band swing stuff too . Everything else too , the cars , the fashion , furniture and bakelite radios ..... back to music ......
40's , 50's , 60's and 70's were for me . All of it . Disco in the 80's actually ruined it for me for the most part although I did enjoy some of it ( R.I.P. Donna Summer ) . I'm with @General_Lee for the most part that nothing really has impressed me in the last 30 years
 

Synchro

The artist formerly known as: Synchro
Staff member
Jun 2, 2008
26,425
Tucson
I love the music of the ‘40s. My parents loved Big Band music, and introduced me to that music. Had it not been for Big Band music, I doubt that music would have developed as it did.

“think that our perspective of the quality of music directly correlates to the impact it has on us at the time it hits us.”

There‘s a lot to this. Perception of music is very dynamic. Songs that came along during crises, are almost universally distasteful to me. Songs that came along at times of hope and growth are remembered fondly.

The music of late 1970, and on into 1971 is filled with good memories. I don’t desire to come across as morbid, but in September of 1970, I was in the hospital, fighting for my life, and not at all certain that I would wake up the next morning. That sort of thing leaves a strong impression on one’s psyche.

When you’ve had to mentally accept that you are going to close your eyes to sleep, and might not open them again, you are a lot harder to scare in the future. I remember, vividly, the night that happened, and I remember waking up the next morning, thinking that I had survived … and obviously, I had. Everything changed, and I became a different version of myself.

The next few months were a time of rebuilding, and I experienced life differently. My memories of that time are quite vivid; the sights, the sounds, the colors; they all seemed more intense. I was just a kid, but I was a lot harder to intimidate, after that.

So it may be that I was just that much more receptive to music, during that time period, just as I was more receptive to many everyday experiences.

There are several comments stating that music of the last 20-30 years or so not being appealing, and I have to agree. The last Pop tune I recall taking note of was Carly Simon’s Coming Around Again. Much of what has come since strikes me as contrived, and artificial. There have been some exceptions, but they have become evermore rare.
 

Highroller

Country Gent
Jun 11, 2015
2,142
Portland, OR
Every genre I’m familiar with has some kind of seminal, watershed year that spawned a plethora of imitators and changed the course of that particular genre.

For example, 1959 for jazz (Miles Davis and Kind of Blue), 1962 for folk (Dylan’s first record), 1964 for rock (the Beatles on Ed Sullivan), 1976 for punk (Ramone’s debut), 1987 for hip-hop (Public Enemy’s debut) and so on and so on. Those would be the “good years”, for that genre.

Beyond that, it might just be coincidence that some years seem “better” than others, except that the effect of those watershed years would linger into the following years.

I’m old, so almost all my “good years” are planted well back in the last century. But I do recall 2007 and 2009 as a pretty good years. Not so many since then, nothing much at all since about 2012.

Everything’s looking backwards these days. Almost all of the “new” music I pick up on seems to be decidedly retro, albeit sometimes with a more modern twist.

Is it the internet’s fault?

We’ve got everything from every era at our disposal with the click of a button these days.

You don't need to build a personal record collection to bond with "your" music anymore. You can skim and surf the history of popular music whenever you want to. If you’re more than a casual music fan, you can find stuff from all over the place to enjoy. Everybody can be a little music historian, cherry picking what they like and ignoring the rest.

Is it that there’s so much wealth to plunder that nobody’s bothering to create something new anymore? It's just too darn easy to go with what's already there?

Sometimes, that’s the feeling I get. I really do wonder about it.
 
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