I'm one of those people who just needs to have music playing as much as possible. I have the radio on all day at work, and of course when I'm at home, writing. I need to have background noise. Rather than having it distract me, I find that it helps me stay focused.
Between papers for class, my column, and my various other writing endeavors, I listen to a lot of music. I try to mix it up a little, but there are always some standards that I keep coming back to.
Here are just a few of my current favorites:
Enya, And Winter Came. With its lush melodies and, of course, that voice, the fact that this is technically a Christmas CD is really irrelevant. Some of the songs do have vocals, and to me they sound like they were recorded in an empty Gothic cathedral deep in Italy or Ireland. Just beautiful. And the instrumentals are lush enough and relaxing enough to get you right into that "writer's zone". Love it.
Enya, Paint the Sky With Stars: The Best of Enya. Yes, there's a pattern here. Say what you want about Enya, but in my opinion, there's not much music out there that helps you get into a better frame of mind than hers. I have almost all of her CD's, and with good reason.
Joni Mitchell, Turbulent Indigo and Hits. C'mon. It's Joni Mitchell--need I say more? These are 2 discs I reach for when I have a particularly long paper and just need a little extra push. I particularly love "Sex Kills" and "Turbulent Indigo" off that CD, and "Chinese Cafe/Unchained Melody" and "Come In From the Cold" off of Hits.
Carly Simon, Reflections: Carly Simon's Greatest Hits. I love music by singers/songwriters from the '70's, and it doesn't get much better than Carly. Though oddly enough, I find that I replay tracks 9-16 over and over again, and most of those were among her best works from the 1980's. Go figure.