With this post, I’d like to discuss a somewhat disturbing condition I’ve observed over the years, one that seems to afflict a lot of my songwriting compadres. Believe it or not, sadly I’ve noticed … (He whispers) …many don’t actually listen to all that much music.
Now I fully realize, after obsessively tweaking the chord changes to our latest masterpiece or enduring a marathon studio session, the last thing any of us want to do is listen to more music. I get it. But as time goes on and this work cycle repeats itself, sometimes our musical “disinterest” can begin to extend beyond the normal confines of post-session burnout, proving destructive to our musical powers in the long-term.
As creatives, we’re fueled by inspiration. Our output is directly correlated to our input. As such, absorbing, internalizing and interpreting art made by others is an extremely important part of the creative process, one that must be maintained and nurtured. So how do we do this as sometimes musically self-saturated songwriters and musicians? Simple. As Mr. Wilson so eloquently put it, “Add some music to your day."
What? Mas music?
Sounds like more sonic overload, I know, but hear me out.
When not writing and recording, stuck at your day gig, rather than eating up those precious, lunchtime minutes on Bookface, make a conscious, daily effort to feed your musical soul instead. Crack open iTunes, Spotify, etc. and take in an album — old, new, left-field — one you’ve never listened to before. Or maybe try going retro. Shun the TV one night a week, pull that piece of vinyl from the milk crate, throw it on the turntable and park yourself between the speakers for the evening.
In our mobile, iPod world, there’s something to be said for revisiting the stationary, focused listening experience enjoyed by previous generations. Listening to music used to be, in and of itself, an activity, not something you did while doing something else.
Now, of course, there’s nothing revelatory about the suggested listening time-outs listed above. Fitting more musical inspiration into our lives is certainly a no-brainer if we make the smallest of efforts. But just as a friend hips you to the missing glasses hiding atop your head, sometimes the obvious needs to be stated. As musicians, we should be listening.
Mark Bacino is a singer/songwriter based in New York City. When not crafting his own melodic brand of retro-pop, Mark can be found producing fellow artists or composing for television/advertising via his Queens English Recording Co. Mark also is the founder of intro.verse.chorus, a website for songwriters dedicated to the exploration of that wonderfully elusive activity known as songwriting. Visit Mark on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.