The one downside to listening to new things this early in the year is often that there isn’t anything new out to listen to. So I’m often bouncing around my music collection, throwing on whatever happens to pop into mind at the time.
As usual, I’m writing this just before my evening writing/editing session, and I was in the mood for a bit of Porcupine Tree — a band I’d discovered while at HMV (their 1999 album Stupid Dream had just been released) and one that would often be a go-to for my writing sessions during the early 00’s. In this case, 2002’s In Absentia came to mind, so I popped it on. It’s a lovely album, recorded at the point where they’d decided to morph from dreamlike, guitar-based prog rock to a more prog-metal influenced sound. [Note: lead singer/band leader Steven Wilson would be the first to slap me for labeling them prog, as he quite loathes the term. But I digress.]
I’ve posted numerous times before about some of the key album releases over the years that influenced, or at least gave a soundtrack to, the Bridgetown Trilogy. This album, Dishwalla’s And You Think You Know What Life’s About, Mansun’s Six, Beck’s Sea Change, and so on. They’re all great albums that I’ll still throw on now and again while I’m writing or editing.
Does music distract me from my work? Well, yes, sometimes it does. Especially if I hear a song like Silversun Pickups’ “Panic Switch”, which often sends me across the room to pick up my bass to play along with it. But more often than not, just as it has since I was a scruffy teenager first attempting to write novels, it serves a dual purpose: it’s background noise to help me focus on the task at hand, and it’s also a sound that, if I choose correctly, influences whatever it is I’m working on at that moment. I’ve listened to music for so long, and for such long stretches, that if I don’t have anything playing while I’m working, I kind of feel naked in a way. The silence makes me self-conscious.
But you know, that’s why I have such a large collection as I do, and why it’s 99% digital now. I have a library of sound that helps me through the day, in whatever I’m doing, whether it’s writing, editing, or the Day Job.
And I wouldn’t want it any other way.