Working downtown and living in the middle of a big city have their perks; though I complain a lot about the tricky schedule and many annoyances of working outside my house, I will admit to some benefits of getting out into the world. For one thing, I have become a world-class, superstar parallel parker, especially in tight spots one might think would be too tiny for such a large Volvo wagon as the one I drive. Sometimes, I wedge my car into parking spaces so small, and with such ease that I literally must say aloud to myself, “Damn girl.” And I take special pleasure in drawing the words out to toot my own horn for just a few seconds longer, so that it comes out sounding something a little bit like this: “Day-ammmmmmmm, girrrrrrl.” Yeah, it’s pretty awesome.
Another side effect of working downtown is that I get to see all kinds of people and their weirdnesses. For instance, just last week while walking to my car after work, I passed by an elderly gentleman wearing a lovely suit, sitting in his parked car, and smoking pot out of an apple–a green one. Heh. I guess he just couldn’t wait to cut loose at the end of the work day. You just gotta love Seattle.
But perhaps the best feature of my life these days is all the time I now have to listen to music throughout the day. I’ll preface this by saying that I fully realize and admit that I’ve become one of those people you see on the street, who is so immersed in her own little world, hermetically sealed by noise-cancelling headphones, that she doesn’t see people, cars, or dog poop in her path. Yeah, it’s happened.
I listen to music in the morning at the dog park, on my way to work, all day at my desk, again at the dog park in the afternoon, and at night while writing. And sometimes I can only fall asleep if I have my trusty pillow speaker nestled carefully beneath my ear, so that there are some days when I make a little soundtrack for myself from morning til night, letting the music I choose shape my mood and vise versa. In addition to remembering why I loved my favorite bands in the first place, I’ve also been discovering a wealth of new bands to obsess over and pine for. Right now, I can’t get enough of The Avett Brothers, the new Arcade Fire album, and a kickass bluegrass band called The Punch brothers.
I’m sure there’s no need to elaborate any further on my abilities as a master rap artist after last week’s post. I’ve been happy to perform my skillz for several close friends and other various small audiences so I’ve had my fill of rap for a while.
While at work, I like to pick just the right band and create a long playlist, then let myself get lost in the music while I churn out product copy machine gun-style, barely coming up for a fresh mug of tea or trip to the bathroom until I’ve cleared the priority tasks off my desk. If I make the right selection, I can crank out work for a solid three hours at a time before needing to stretch or take a break. It’s something akin to the 18th hour of a very long road trip, when everyone else in the car is asleep and you have this long, unending highway stretched out in front of you, with no light other than your own headlights. Times like those, in order to stay away have might just have no choice but to find the best techno/house music (think Paul Okenfold or Planet Funk), allow yourself to sink down into some kind of trance where the music dictates that your focus fixate on only the road ahead, put your head down, and power through it.
And at home, while slowly etching out the infant legs of new poem or revising the same paragraph of my novel for the millionth time, I require certain kinds of music to keep me inspired but not distracted. If I’m going to have to live my life as this constant, reliable, never-ceasing spewer of words–language consuming my every thought, then there will inevitably be times when the right kind of music is crucial to my happiness and not-falling-asleepness. So as it happens, on good days as I sit in my chair at work or on the couch at home with my laptop resting on my knees, I start boppping my head around, and then my knees get a-bouncin’and from there, expect to see ponytail movement. Sometimes I can’t contain my need to move and bounce along with the music I love when it hits me at just the right spot at just the right moment.
I bop my head and rock out with increasingly less abandon these days. I’ve begun to stop caring who sees me dancing terribly as I walk around downtown or who hears me singing loudly—and also terribly—while driving in my car. Sometimes, you just gotta feel the music, man.
I’ve put together some of my favorites and listed them below– a little “Tbone’s Best-Of.” So now when you think of me bouncing up and down in my computer chair at work like some kind of sugar-highed monkey, or throwing fist pumps and shoulder shimmies into my running stride on the Burke Gilman Trail, you’ll have a soundtrack to complete the picture.
Best acoustic song for a rainy morning: Coldplay’s Yellow (trust me–this is a great version)
Best pump-up song in preparation for a date or reunion with a long-lost lover: Avett Brothers–Kick Drum Heart
Best “I’m happy to be single song:” Third Eye Blind–Motorcycle Drive-by
Best running Song: Airborne Toxic Event—Wishing Well
Best song for a walk in the woods: Arcade Fire–Sprawl
Best break-up Song: Vast–I Don’t Have Anything
Best song for writing love scenes: Laundry Room by Avett brothers
Best Torch Song: Smith–Baby It’s You
Best song for when you’re feeling wicked: Kings of Leon—Charmer
Best song to remember why having siblings is so incredible: Avett Brothers—Murder in the City
Best Fresh Start Song: The The–This is the day
Best sunny day, out for a drive old-school rap song: Ice Cube—Today Was A Good Day
Best Wake-up Song: Tom Petty–Time to Move on
Best Song to fall asleep to while drunk: Foo Fighters–On the Mend
Best Radiohead cover by a Bluegrass band: Punch Brothers–Morning Bell