Music for Writing, Part 1

I Love Music

Quite a variety of it. I just don’t get to listen to it much anymore (unless I take a break from writing — What! Heresy!)

Early Days

When I was a kid, my parents had a small record player, and a number of vinyl LPs, mostly classical, show tunes, and big band jazz. Naturally, as a teen I discovered pop and rock (which was pretty tame in the late-1950’s and early-1960’s), and, because we lived in Central Texas at the time, country music. Once The Beatles arrived in the early-60’s everything exploded. Blues landed on my radar soon after that, and my musical palette continued to expand. Before the 1960’s had wrapped up, it included Indian ragas and other world music (thank you, Ravi Shankar), and all sorts of rock and experimental jazz. By the late-60’s, I had acquired a set of tablas and a shoulder conga and a guiro (I still have them), and found myself playing percussion in some local bands, as well as working as a radio DJ while I was in college.


Today, there are so many musical genres in my collection I wouldn’t know how to define it. I’ll listen to anything at least once, and there are very few styles of music I’ll reject without at least trying them. I liked a lot of heavy rock when I was younger, like Led Zeppelin, but I don’t care for overly-aggressive music like death-metal. Zep was blues-based, and their intensity was centered in a strong musicality. I like a lot of the early hip-hop (“Rappers Delight,” “The Message”) and alt-hip-hop (“Rebirth of Slick”), but don’t care for gangsta and hardcore rap (again, the aggressiveness). My love of country music faded in and out. I love Willie, of course, and some other country artists (like Patsy Cline, Merle Haggard and Lyle Lovett). I like a lot of the new trends toward Americana, but lost interest in country when it started sounding like it was trying to become neo-pop. I also have a lot of instrumental music (jazz and classical) in my playlists, but if I had to pick a favorite music it might be reggae (classic reggae like Bob Marley and Toots and the Maytals, not reggaeton). Blues (Texas Blues, Delta Blues, and their offspring) would run a close second, though.

Lately I mostly listen to music in my car, but I don’t listen for pleasure nearly as much as I used to, because I don’t drive that much. Since the pandemic began I have driven a total of 1,242 miles. The last time I filled my car (mostly to top it off) was on February 23, 2021. It took 2.4 gallons. The last time before that was on January 5th (again, just to keep the tank full for emergencies), and it was just 3.6 gallons that time. Lately, I’ve only driven a few miles at a time, to the grocery store and a few other places, including to get COVID-19 vaccinations (my wife and I got our second shot about a month ago. Yay!). Those brief trips didn’t allow me much time to listen to music. At home it’s much the same. I’m always working on one book or another, or on the websites related to them, so I don’t listen much because I don’t want to be distracted.

The above paragraphs, by the way, are evidence of why I’m primarily a novelist instead of a short story writer or essayist. Once I get started writing I can’t stop. I could go on with this for a long time, but let’s just pretend that I intended to make this post simply an intro to my musical tastes, and in the next post (Music for Writing, Part 2), I’ll cover some of the music I do listen to as an aid to my writing.


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