Music to Write By: Looping Sounds

I do my most satisfying writing when listening to looping sounds. Around and around, on repeat and again.

My love for repetitive music started when I was a kid. My favorite song from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Chris Superstar wasn’t I Don’t Know How to Love Him or Superstar but Trial Before Pilate (including the 39 Lashes).

39 Lashes features counting, whip Foley and a guitar riff that goes around and around. That’s basically it. I felt weird about liking it so much. Did I enjoy hearing a man being whipped? No, it was the sound. It went around and around. I liked that.

I discovered more looping magic over the years in the music of John Coltrane, Ravi Shankar, The Penguin Cafe Orchestra, Fripp and Eno, Eno and Byrne, Godspeed You Black Emperor, NIN, Stereolab and My Bloody Valentine.

My Bloody Valentine, Hammerstein Ballroom, 2009

Bandcamp now feeds my addiction, offering an endless ebb and flow of the sounds, such as Off the Sky, Alex Bober, Drape, Keith Berry, Green Kingdom. The list goes on.

There are times I find these sounds in the city, a distant jack hammer, air conditioner units, honks, whirring and yelling, but it never holds and dissipates into a mess.

There just has to be a sound – preferably electronic – that goes around. I will listen to that on repeat, the song of the repeated sound again and again. There is something pure in that. Something divine. Something definitely to write by. The problem can be coming up for air.

Intelligence of a Disco Ball

I sit on the fire hydrant protective pole and think about this intelligence of ours. The buildings are big and I am impressed by that. I watch the people pass, the conversations, always on the phone, that Doppler effect, remarkable, words whole and real with the smiling, angry face, shards fleeting by, almost seizing that, like music, trying to compose those notes, understand that language. Yeah, it seems like hieroglyphics now, walking sideways, feeling so smart and full of it, and then not. Intelligence. My faux mantra. Life is being in it. Intelligence is understanding that. And so then? Then is the word. What is behind the locked door? The memory as a child of something not there. The reason for addiction. What goes on around that corner?

We imbibe. We rock and deride. We dream. What else can do that? And, essence of it, is intelligence in those very things? Irony of ironies, what if that is the only thing, to be wet and erect, and that we only need to stay delighted or angry or just freaking about that. We are the intelligent ones. Who else could dream up the idea of a disco ball, something so pure as that, that has no name nor gender or race. It just spins and plays all the right music.