I love music. I sang all through school, and though I haven’t sung formerly in years, if you sneak up on me in my backyard while I’m gardening, you might have to endure my version of “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess, or “Stormy Weather.” You could catch me singing a tune from My Fair Lady, West Side Story or even a hymn in Latin. All those years ago, standing up on risers, reaching for a high C, eyeballing the conductor while our voices swooped and fell like invisible birds, songs seeped into my pores. At the end of those long ago performances, I felt like I could fly.
With that background, it may surprise you to know that I rarely listen to music. I have 600 songs on my I-tunes playlist but I only reach for it once in a while. I don’t crank the tunes when working around the house, and while sometimes the radio is on when I drive, more often I travel in silence. I like to hear what is around me, the cark of a seagull, the wash of the sea, the scurrying of my own rabbit thoughts. As for writing, I know a lot of folks swear by their play lists, but I was afraid of the distraction.
Until last week. A late bloomer always, I’ve just begun listening to Pandora Radio. What a luxury. That first time, I selected one of the most lyrical performers I know. Next thing I knew, song after song of evocative music from similar musicians poured down into the depths of me. I loved it so much, I sat down and worked on my current project while plugged in to Pandora. Two thousand words later, I was a convert.
In less than a week, I am more than eight thousand words further along on my manuscript. Generally I'm pleased if I write five-hundred words a day. But with the ear buds in, I swear inspiration came more quickly, the words jostled each other in my brain in their rush to get out. The answer to a huge hole I’ve been pondering for months presented itself to me as I wrote and wrote and wrote. It was if the music floated me on a river through a forest lush with creativity.
Suddenly, I understand writer sound tracks. The music carrying me along fits with the theme of my story and in the morning I wake up now, not only anxious to write, but to tune in, too. Today, it seems to me that a song reaching to the depths is the same as a poem, like umami for the mind. Or a blessing--a combination of thought and nuance that floats its way down like a feather and brushes your heart, just right.
What do you listen to when you write?