Music I can’t write to

I was sitting, staring at the work I should have been editing, and I was humming “Anesthesia” by Brenda Kahn. Why hum it when I can play it? I fired up Epiphany in Brooklyn and until it’s done I won’t be getting anything creative done. In the pauses between songs a thought or an idea might sneak in, but as soon as the words start I’m there in the scenes she paints with her words, an impressionistic sketch of a lonely landscape filled with lost people. In only a few words she builds whole people. Of course, all the detail comes from my own imagination, which is what makes it so powerful.

The same thing happened a couple of days ago with Tom Waits. I rationalize indulging in these pleasures when I should be working by telling myself that it’s emotional food I’m eating, that I can digest and turn into… uh, I think I’ll leave the metaphor there.

Often, you can tell if I’m being productive at the moment by looking at the the “Now Playing” section over somewhere to the right. The better the songwriter, the less productive I am at that moment. (Of course, just because I’m playing music doesn’t mean I’m writing at all, and if I’ve gone to a bar to write that section won’t update at all.) I’ve turned to Internet Radio lately to enhance my productivity; there are stations that play forgettable ambient electronica 24 hours a day. It’s nice, but it doesn’t get into the verbal part of my head. I’ll be switching over to that – after I play through this album a second time.

2 thoughts on “Music I can’t write to

  1. Speaking of music, Polkacide played tonight. In the polka afterglow, I’m inspired:

    Bass rattles my bones

    No clue what notes I’m playing

    Why do we sound-check?

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