Colin Marshall: Cultural Nexus / An album a week

I never listened to The Beatles until age thirty-five… it just seemed like, The Beatles are so popular they are the image of a popular, influential band. “I don’t need to listen to the -, other people have taken care of that.” But I realised as I went on, The Beatles are a cultural nexus: if you understand The Beatles they connect to so much else in especially Western culture but not just the West anymore, and I figured okay, how am I going to get to grips with The Beatles?

And I realised we were coming up on the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ break-up… and I thought “Well, if I listen to one Beatles album a week, every day, I’ll have just enough weeks to finish by the 50th anniversary of their break-up… So I did that… I’ve done the same subsequently with The Beach Boys, and now I’m doing it with The Rolling Stones, just going programmatically through the whole discographies of these massively influential bands.

Colin Marshall on Cool Tools ep. 256

So What?

  • The idea of cultural nexus(es) is powerful: if you’re learning a new language and culture, or a new field, you’d do well to focus on a few cultural nexuses as good 80/20 approach for getting a feel for what people are talking about. (e.g. “Who are The Beatles of Indonesia? Who are The Rolling Stones? Who’s Guns’n’Roses?”)
  • The album a week approach has the benefits of pacing yourself, immersing yourself, and getting sufficient repetition to develop real familiarity with the material.
  • Something like this could be a great project for 2021?

I'd love to hear your thoughts and recommended resources...