Music to work to…

I love music. I love all kinds of music. I love listening to music doing all kinds of things. 

Before my son was old enough to be recruited to mow the lawn, I almost always listened to Dropkick Murphys’ “Blackout” or a Drive-By Truckers album as I did that chore. “Blackout”, at about 45 minutes long, filled the time almost perfectly as long as I kept up the pace.

I love listening to Swervedriver on hard bike rides. The live version of Camper Van Beethoven’s “All Her Favorite Fruit” is sublime shower music after a hot day outside. “Wave of Mutilation” by Pixies and Bowie’s “Five Years” are great any time.

Sometimes some music just feels right for certain things. It’s not always about the music as much as it’s about memories or moods associated with the music. Which is why for years I would listen to The Cult’s “Love” on what seemed like the first nice day of a midwestern spring. Something about it reminded me of my youth and freedom and outdoors.

In the cassette days I made a lot of mix tapes. Then I burned a lot of CDR mixes. Now I make streaming playlists. One of them is called “Super Focus”, and it’s my go-to collection of songs for when I’ve got to crank on work stuff work. It’s mostly chill instrumental tracks—Hammock, Bonobo, Kodomo, Tycho, Emancipator, Ott, Little People, etc. To be honest, I listen to a bunch of chill playlists on Spotify (Lush Lofi, Deep Focus, Music for Concentration, Chill Tracks, etc.)—they all work for me when I’m writing, sketching, designing, thinking…

Songs with vocals can be fine for design but definitely don’t work for me when I’m writing. Here are a couple Top 10s featuring some of my “get-things-done” favorites:

Full albums

  1. Doves “The Last Broadcast”
  2. Flaming Lips “The Soft Bulletin”
  3. Björk “Homogenic”
  4. Daft Punk “Random Access Memories”
  5. Jane’s Addiction “Nothing’s Shocking”
  6. The Radio Dept. “Heaven’s On Fire”
  7. Screaming Trees “Sweet Oblivion”
  8. Drive-By Truckers “Southern Rock Opera”
  9. My Bloody Valentine “Loveless”
  10. Anything by Mogwai, Tycho, or Boards of Canada

Songs on repeat

  1. Washed Out “ Feel It All Around”
  2. Swervedriver “Duress” (proof!)
  3. fIREHOSE “Chemical Wire”
  4. Rhye “Summer Days”
  5. Thievery Corporation “Lebanese Blonde”
  6. Portishead “Glory Box”
  7. The Church “Under the Milky Way”
  8. Massive Attack “Teardrop”
  9. Folk Implosion “Natural One”
  10. Love Battery “Highway of Souls”

What’s your favorite work music?

Image: cassette tapes, public domain.