Unless you live as a hermit and dismiss technology all together odds are you listen to music every day. It’s 2020. Everyone listens to music in some form or another. In fact, in today’s digital age, it’s damn near impossible to avoid it. According to a Nielson Music study in 2017, nearly 90 percent of Americans listen to music on a daily basis for about 32 hours per week. That’s a lot of our time dedicated to music, and without the advancement of technology, it wouldn’t be possible.

Music and technology go hand in hand. As technology advances to make our lives easier, we end up just adding more and more onto our plate. We are continually striving to be the most efficient we can be. Multi-tasking ultimately becomes our greatest skill as we try to cram as much as we can into 24 hours, and if you don’t, you, unfortunately, will be left in the dust. So how does every American have time to listen to 32 hours of music every week? Do we really listen?

I want you to really think about when you listen to music. You listen when you’re working out, sitting in traffic, writing your email, making dinner, in the shower, or mindlessly scrolling through social media. And how do we listen? Usually with our phones. We listen to music to distract us from what we are doing. We don’t actually listen to music. We treat music as background noise in our lives, so we don’t have to live in the moment.

Don’t get me wrong; music is a great escape. It makes driving and working tolerable. It pushes you to get in that last rep at the gym or run that last lap at the track, but music has more than that to offer. Because of streaming services, music has never been more accessible. Frankly, I couldn’t live without Apple Music, but it does come with a cost. It takes away from the magic of listening to a song the way your favorite artist intended. It went from being something you looked forward to doing everyday to something mundane and just a natural part of life, such as walking or breathing. Streaming apps are not only changing when we listen, but how we listen, and I fear we’re beginning to take music for granted.

Sixty years ago, when the only way to listen to the music of your choice was a vinyl record, the process of listening was a lot more exciting, and some may argue like a ritual. When a new record would drop, you had to go to the store, buy an album, drive home, and pop open the record player all before you could hear just one note. You would sit around the speaker like you would a tv and listen to the full album front to back.

Every song had a purpose and told a unique part of the story the artist was trying to portray. There were no distractions. You weren’t aimlessly scrolling through your phone or focusing on that email to make a sale. You were fully immersed in the sound. It wasn’t just something you did. It was an experience for the body, mind, and soul and the music reflected that. Bands and artists such as The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Fleetwood Mac, the list can go on and on, would focus on the whole album. The whole experience. Every song meant something, and fans took the time not only to listen but interpret and consume every lyric, emotion, and guitar riff.

Today, at least in the mainstream, we seemed to have lost touch with the art of music. Songs are getting shorter and shorter. Lp’s are turning to Ep’s, and Ep’s are becoming singles. Our attention spans are disappearing, and the music is suffering. When did we choose the 2 min song made in 20 minutes over full-scale albums and seven-minute ballads? It’s not the artist’s fault either. It starts with us, the listener. Artists need to make a living, and if they have to make singles over albums, that’s what they’ll do. If we change our listening habits and fall in love with the art again, the music will follow. I’m not saying stop streaming music. I’m saying take time out of your day and dedicate it to listening to your favorite album—nothing else, just the music.

The good news is it’s not all doom and gloom. As much as things are changing, there is a demand to slow down. We’ve been fed the digital life so much; people are starting to get fed up. There’s a reason the demand for physical vinyl records is skyrocketing. There’s a reason meditation apps are the new big thing. People are starting to wake up and slow down. Sometimes we need a break from all the complex technology running our lives. We need to live in the moment and experience, not just the now but something real and physical. The Glass Animals said it best on the opening song of their new Album Dreamland.

“You’ve had too much of the digital love. You want everything live, you want things you can touch. Make it feel like a movie you saw in your youth. Make it feel like that song that just unopened you”

A revolution in listening to music needs to happen, but we’re on the right track. The more we sit down and listen to music the way it is intended, the more things will change. It won’t only help the artist. It will help the listener have a full experience in body, mind, and spirit. Just listening to your favorite artist with no distractions could be a form of meditation and could not only entertain you but ease your stress, anxiety, and overall well being. So get comfy, grab a drink, spark a joint, close your eyes, and get lost in the music, man.

Dear Bonnaroo,
As June has come and gone, I sit in my apartment with my body not sore from dancing for four days straight, my mind not foggy from a 17-hour drive home, no Amish Donuts in my stomach, but yet I still feel a buzz that only Bonnaroo can produce. If you’ve been there, you understand.

If you have yet to experience the Farm, words cannot do it any justice. It’s not quite the same as returning from our beloved home, but I still feel something. Maybe it’s my body subconsciously thinking it was at Roo as it does every year at this time. Or perhaps it’s the memories from old photos and videos popping up from not only my phone but on my timeline from my friends. There is something special about Bonnaroo. Even when it doesn’t happen, the magic still somehow finds it’s way to us. Scrolling through my feed, watching videos and pictures of past Roos, and watching Homearoo streamed by Bonnaroo365, for now, the third weekend brought me through a roller coaster of emotions. From sadness to happiness, to nostalgia, euphoria, and back to sadness again.

The bonnablues are absolutely a real thing. But it also proved that Bonnaroo is more than just a gathering of hippies listening to music in a field every June. It’s a community like no other that lasts throughout the entire year. I frankly can’t think of any other festival that impacts people’s lives as much as Bonnaroo.

So many great things have happened in my life because I attended my first Roo back in 2017. Not only have I discovered new top-notch music year after year, but I’ve found a new home, made new lifetime friendships, and found love, as the Farm introduced me to my girlfriend of now almost three years. Bonnaroo will always have a special place in my heart.

Before the announcement of the cancellation, I was optimistic about experiencing Septemberoo. You may call it blind ignorance, but due to our world’s current state, I couldn’t think of anything more fitting to end this bizarre time. A place for four days with nothing but love, music, freedom, and togetherness, which we all need so desperately. A break and a release of everything we are going through. Of course, safety is the main priority, and all though it’s heartbreaking, we won’t be on the Farm this year, I understand and have come to peace with it.

2021 is far away, but imagine that feeling of walking through gates next year after everything the world has thrown at us. After not being on the Farm for two whole years. After fighting through the worst times of our lives, through the pandemic, the lockdown, racial injustice, unemployment, the list goes on, and we still have the peace of mind to smile through all the bullshit and come together through love and music.

Yes, the wait sucks, but Bonnaroo is always worth the wait, whether it’s 12 hours in line or two years in between. Next year will, without a doubt, be the best year yet. So thankyou Bonnaroo for giving us a light at the end of the tunnel. This year we will live through the memories we’ve made on the Farm, and I know we will be together soon.

Sincerely,

Tyrone Basket, a Bonnaroovian