I believe that artforms improve over time. The more art that came before, the more the artist can assess what worked and what didn't—and iterate on it. Movies, music—everything—is often better than it ever was.
I know that's controversial. I know nostalgia, romanticization, and wanting to signal our refined, studied tastes blind us to this. But I believe it to be true.
Granted, all new art isn't consistently better than prior art. Economics and culture pressure new art into optimizing for vanity metrics.
But the best art of each era usually trends to being better than the best art of the prior era. If you keep your eyes open and don't dismiss newcomers, that is.
And so I present to you my favorite media, without shame that there isn't a greater representation of older art.
Wild Beasts, The National, SZA, Death Cab for Cutie, Frank Ocean, Radiohead, Fink, Van Morrison, dvsn, Brand New, Hippo Campus, The Weeknd, Bon Iver, John Mayer, Ben Howard, Geographer, Kendrick Lamar, Zero 7, Matt Corby, Raveena, Lauryn Hill, RY X, Angus and Julia Stone, NIN
"Sweet Thing" by Van Morrison
(Cover by Hozier)
I will stroll the merry way and jump the hedges first
I will drink the clear, clean water for to quench my thirst
I shall watch the ferry boats, and I'll get high
On a bluer ocean against tomorrow's sky
I will never grow so old again
I will walk and talk
In gardens all wet with rain
I shall drive my chariot down your streets and cry
Hey, it's me, I'm dynamite, and I don't know why
You shall take me strongly in your arms again
And I will not remember that I ever felt the pain
We shall walk and talk in gardens all misty wet
All misty wet with rain down
And I will never, never, never grow so old again
I will raise my hand up into the night time sky
Count the stars that shine in your eyes
And just to dig it all—not to wonder, that's just fine
I'll be satisfied not to read in between the lines
I will walk and talk in gardens all wet with rain
And I will never, ever, ever, ever grow so old again
"Every Name is My Name" by Matthew Good
I made a movie about the end of the world
It was twelve seconds long and it didn't have a plot
It just happens
And that's why it's in black and white
The characters don't talk or move around
They just stare up at the sky, frozen
And the light, the light is numb, the light is off
The light is just a thumbnail sketch of God
Somewhere, someone is crying
The camera sweeps over a desolate street
Holding a mother and her child
The kid is calm and she is shaking
The camera passes into the sun
Come at last to be undone
Panicking, she tries to run
The kid is calm
And then the credits roll
And every name is my name
This year, I got tired of overlong books and bad book summaries. So I made a newsletter that just shares the most interesting highlights from famous books. I distill each book's key lessons into short paragraphs. 50,000 people read it. Subscribe to see the first issue.
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