Sunday, June 20, 2010

Music to Write By

I wrote my master's thesis in the Summer of 1984 in a dark library cubicle. I wrote in long hand. The fingernail on my right index finger still bears a slight deformity from the ordeal. I would spend entire days alone writing, my only company a cassette player and head phones. I had four sides of music that got me through the thesis. Steely Dan, James Taylor, Supertramp, and Pat Benatar (yes, Pat Benatar).

Supertramp and Benatar were opposite sides of the same cassette, and they were particularly helpful in keeping me writing. Clearly, they were different. Supertramp was better when I needed to formulate an argument. Early in the day stuff. Even in The Quietest Moments, Can't Stop the Loverboy, Long Way Home. But when I had the argument and just needed to crank, it was Benatar. To the beats of Never Wanna Leave You, Heartbreaker, and Hit Me With Your Best Shot, I wrote about Elias Smith and post-revolutionary American Christianity.

So, as I prepare to drop into a concentrated dissertation mode, I ritually prepared by making three playlists. I needed some new music, something that would keep me interested enough to sit on one place for awhile. So, playlist one consists of a mix of some of my new favorites from their most recent cd's--DMB, Avett Brothers, Jakob Dylan, Wilco, Pearl Jam. The second playlist is the muse cd, when I'm searching for the writing line. It's soothing stuff, and as it turns out all female voices. Sarah McLachlan, Rachael Yamagata, Kim Taylor, Over the Rhine, Lucinda Williams, Brandi Carlile. And then there's the rocker, the get it done, crank it outm finish the footnotes, cd. Tom Petty, Kings of Leon, Gov't Mule, Raconteurs, M. Ward, Spoon, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. And for a touch with the summer of '84, Benatar's, Never Gonna Leave You and Supertramp's, Give a Little Bit, made the lists.

So, now that I have avoided actual dissertation work by writing about my playlists, back to congregational soteriological imagination.


happytheman said...

Funny about Supertramp Laura and I were sitting doing our XM Radio trolling game where who ever can name the band before the other get's a fist bump and if you name it before they sing you get two. Well we seem to stop and listen to all Supertramp when it comes on till the end. As she leans towards Quietest Moments i'm more "Crime of the Century".

I've gotten a lot of riding done to Over The Rhine, and Austin Local's Molly Venter & Eliza Gilkyson plus Patty Griffin.

Really been listening to Folk artist - Mumford and Sons and The Tallest Man on Earth lately. Loving both of them and of course the new The National.

thepriesthood said...

A fun post. I never did a thesis, but my writing tunes had to be either wordless, or in a language I couldn't understand, otherwise all the words would get tangled up in my head. Using your categories of writing, I would craft my argument to the likes of Explosions in the Sky, and fill in the rest with the likes of Sigur Ros'... But usually U2 at the outset for inspiration.