So here’s the prompt for yesterday’s NaBloPoMo:
Can You Listen To Music And Write? What Song Did You Hear Today?
Right now, as I type this (answering today’s prompt of if I use a pen or computer to write) I’m listening to The Beatles. Right now I have the album “Beatles For Sale” going. I was listening to “Hard Days Night” earlier.
When I write, I can listen to music. Well, I use the term “write” figuratively, as I don’t actually put pen or pencil to paper any more except to write a grocery list, or when I am helping one of my kids with their homework.
So, listening to music while I write, I have to have the right music. When it is critical or analytical in nature, such as a review, I can only have certain types of music on. Ramones, AC/DC, or Motӧrhead are perfect examples of this. Those bands have whole albums, catalogs really, of music that is one pounding rhythm. I am familiar with the music enough not to get caught up in the individual songs for the most part and can concentrate on what I am trying to write. The fat these are upbeat also helps increase my WPM (usually).
For a blog post, such as this, I can listen to almost anything if I am familiar enough with it. Beatles, The Who, Bjork, Madness, Rick Springfield, Duran Duran, Black Flag, Go-Gos, or Nirvana are examples of this. Some musicians I can’t write very well while listening to them. Kate Bush is a great example because not only do I get caught up in each song, but also because each song demands the attention. I’ve found I can’t really be productive while listening to Peter Gabriel as well.
Some albums I just can’t listen to while writing, no matter what the circumstances. Usually it’s because the album is new and I really want to pay attention and listen to it. That new Foo Fighters album? Still can’t write effectively with it on. Put any of the others on, and I can type stuff up.
I have to have listened to an album for a number of times as well as it having certain musical qualities for me to be able to write with it playing. Wild changes in musical styles and it is difficult, even with pauses (which is how I write blog posts), to keep focused. Eurythmics, Queen and Kate Bush are prime examples.
Some albums, no matter how many times I have heard them, I simply can’t write to. The Beatles “Revolver” is one of those. When I was in high school I had the cassette version of “Revolver” (the U.S. version, before the band’s catalog was altered to match the U.K. releases). This was before CDs were widely available and … well, I was in high school. I used to fall asleep listening to the cassette. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard this album. Well, the old U.S. pressing of it anyway. I’m sick of “Revolver” – and don’t get me wrong. It’s a good album, and I like it, and almost every song on there, as an individual song, I will blast and sing along to. As an album, I just can’t get behind it anymore.
Part of this was due to the fact that this was 1983-85. I had either vinyl or cassette, and I was collecting Beatles albums on vinyl at the used record stores in the University District. That’s another blog post though. Not only was I limited in technology and financial standing, my musical tastes were also limited. New Wave was in full swing, and I reacted against it. It was a poor decision on my part, I closed off a lot of music because it was “new” or whatever, preferring to listen only to “classic” rock and roll.
Some newer acts, such as Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Judas Priest, Def Leppard, or Prince made it through, but I was an idiot, espousing something about how people needed to know the fundamentals of where Rock And Roll comes from. And yes, I knew that Rock And Roll wasn’t created by Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis, but by black men with 5 strings on their guitar and nothing else to their name. It wasn’t until later that I began to appreciate not only the true musical past, but also the present. Once my musical ears began opening up, I made up for lost time and… well… I guess that’s another story.
I have always wondered what my life would have been like had I not been so closed minded musically during high school. I had the opportunity to go to several concerts, but didn’t because the acts didn’t measure up to my warped sense of musical credibility. Had I been more open minded about music earlier in life, would I have gone to a concert before I was 19? Would I have been a little less of a social pariah? Would I have been less of an outsider? Would I have been more socially acceptable, maybe even gotten a girlfriend? Would I have gotten laid … well, let’s not go there.
I’m not saying my musical choices defined my entire social standing in high school, but it is perhaps a symptom of a greater deficit I had growing up. That deficit isn’t a part of me anymore, but some of the leftovers of that attitude haunt me still.
Do I listen to music as I write? I try to, only now I try to listen to a lot more of it, and make a conscious effort to do so.
Well, I didn’t expect this blog post to turn out quite like this.