You might be familiar with this scene: coffee, macbook, headphones. Enter 20 something blogging at a local café. Creative stimulants are in full force, scone has been picked to crumbs.
Although I don’t frequent Chango, the expensive coffeehouse at the end of our block ($9 bagel anyone?), that scene, for the most part, is me. Except I’m at home and scone-less, intermittently reminding myself to take Sallie Anne across the street to shit on Providence Congregational’s lone strip of piss-crisped grass (that’s for singing too loud).
My point is, like a lot of people, I listen to music when I write. Right now I’m listening to the new Jens Lekman album, I Know What Love Isn’t, indie strange-pop at its best (just invented that term). Jens Lekman is a funky dude. But when I’m hunkered down, impassioned, and writing something I feel has purpose, or importance (to me, at least), I crave for that emotionally heavy swell of low key beats and soft, endearing melodies.
In the past it’s been Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Beach House Devotion, Elliott Smith (anything), and many more. Currently though, it’s Patrick Watson, Adventures In Your Own Backyard. AYOB was released in May, however, I didn’t get hold of it until the beginning of August. Since then I’ve put it on loop whenever I sit down to write. I’ve even reverted to it now (Jens was failing me).
All thirteen tracks of AYOB, from “Lighthouse“ to “Things We Do”, exist as the perfect background sound. For me the key is to not get stuck on the lyrics until they burst through my vestibular nerve and demand to act as inspiration. So as “Words on Fire” comes to a close and Watson sings his last lines, ”So what’s been on your mind / Eatin’ you inside / Takin’ all of your time / On this warm summer night / Put those words down in the fire,” I feel this mountainous passion building, a feeling I hope will spill into my sentences. It’s good.
I realize I just described sort of an orgasmic experience. In actuality, I think it’s a bit sad that all these factors need to be in place for me to write impassioned material. Why can’t I just be at the park with a journal watching people buy drugs and little kids getting yanked along on Dora the Explorer backpack leashes? Good Question. Maybe Shakespeare would have found it troubling to type up a script on Final Draft. I don’t know. To each her own.
However, if you’re a coffee+macbook+headphones type of writer like me, or not that at all, check out Adventures In Your Own Backyard. I’ll be doing the same, wishing I had a backyard myself for Sallie Anne to shit in.