by Bill Cameron
On my iPod I have a playlist called "Mood Music." When I go out to write -- and, alas, I can't seem to write at home -- I listen to a few songs on my way down to the Starbucks where I do my writing. At that point, I just listen to whatever comes up at random. I'm just looking to get into the mood.
Some days it's easy. Some days I leap out of the blocks in the mood, so my iPod with its magic playlist serves as a talisman rather than a tool. I've got it if I need it, and more often than not that's enough. When I write, I tune out what's going on around me anyway. The background noise of the coffee shop is just texture, and whatever's playing through the store sound system (i.e., whatever CD Starbucks is currently pushing) adds to the texture. I like sound, I like motion. They contribute to getting me in the mood.
And some days, that's not enough. Some days I have to put the talisman to work. I put on the headphones and click the play button. Listen to what comes up. Because I selected the songs pretty carefully, almost always whatever the random number generator inside the iPod settles on is the song I need to hear. And if not that one, the one after, or the one after that.
"Mood Music" is only 120 songs long. They cover a wide variety of styles, though in theme they are more narrow. Rock and roll, alternative, folk, classical, oldies, newbies -- name your style and it will probably be there. I admit that a few genres are poorly represented. I like the idea of jazz better than the sound of it, and with only a few exceptions I can't abide country. Still, I got Duke Ellington and Dave Brubeck in there, and a Faith Hill. There's pop music and and its philosophical opposite (Philip Glass), hits and B-sides. The famous and the obscure. Paul Simon, Outkast, Unicorn, or The Rolling Stones. Whatever gets me in the mood.
One of the things that grew out of "Mood Music" was the soundtrack for Lost Dog. These are songs that I think capture some of the mood of the novel. Not all of it, and what gets me in the mood might be a turn-off to others. But at various times these were songs I listened to get myself in the mood, among many others.
"Pressure's On" James
"Straight to Video" Mindless Self Indulgence
"The Crystal Lake" Grandaddy
"My Weakness" Moby
"Unchained Melody" Righteous Brothers
"The Kiss" The Cure
"Sweetness Follows" R.E.M.
"Out To Get You" James
"Say Say Something" James
"My Sundown" Jimmy Eat World
So tell me. When you feel yourself start to dry up, what do you listen to to refresh yourself? What do you read, or watch, or do? What gets you in the mood?