Listen to Every Song


Before the days of downloading, Napster, iTunes, and streaming, I had a Walkman. A big yellow one.

And every morning before I got on my bus, I had to make a critical decision about which cassette tape I was going to listen to on both the morning ride to high school and the ride home. Important choices. Tough choices. I had multiple shoeboxes filled with cassette tapes. All kinds of music, and by choosing a cassette, I was committing to that artist for the day.

There were no skips, and no queues, and no playlists. There were, however, mixtapes. But it took a long time to make a mixtape, unless of course, someone made it for you.

Because there were no skips, you had to listen to every song. Not only were you committed to the artist but you needed patience. You needed patience to listen to every song. You probably discovered songs that you wouldn’t have otherwise because you had to listen to each one. 

Excuse me while I go Old Man Yelling at Clouds for a second. Kids these days, with their playlists, and their skips, they just don’t understand. Listening to your walkman was an exercise in commitment and patience. But, as a reward for your commitment and patience, you were given a wide breadth of music. 

As I think about the end of the school year, I think one of the skills that we have gotten away from has been patience. I think that kids demonstrate less patience, especially in an on-demand world. And we have less patience. We focus on the popular hits, without having the patience to listen to the deep cuts. We try for quick fixes, and move on when they don’t work immediately. We sometimes judge a book immediately by its cover. We try to skip the songs we don’t immediately like upon the first ten seconds, and rely too much on our playlists.

I miss my walkman. My big yellow one. 

It helped me to be more patient. 

It taught me commitment. 

It helped me develop a sense of discovery.  

Maybe we should all try to listen to every song more often.




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