In the Background

Something that I’ve noticed over years of procrastination and long sessions of studying, is that I can’t sit down to work without a solid backing track. The music varies, but my requirements do not. For productivity’s sake, the piece can’t be too attention grabbing. Instead, it should easily fade into the background, willing to be ignored for hours on end. But I am a contradictory human being, so I also want my music to be inspiring at other moments. I want it to rise up and give me the motivation to finish one more reading, one more math problem. Finally, I need music to flow continuously. The music should wind a parallel path to my thoughts. It should be in the midst of its own story while I am in the midst of mine. Services, like Spotify or YouTube, have the bad habit of leading you to unexpected destinations and unknown artists. Perhaps this is palatable, even valuable, if one was out and about in an exploratory mood. It is a musical adventure that I would be willing to embark when I am walking from class to class, with nothing else on my mind other than the lyrics of a song. The music in our ears matches the actions of our bodies, the thoughts in our mind. It helps define our feelings at a certain moment of time through other people’s words. But when I am studying, I feel trapped by other people’s words, other people’s ideas. I do not need another world intruding. It is a delicate relationship that I do not have nearly the energy to maintain. Someone with more care would, perhaps, put together complementary playlists, maybe painstakingly find songs that blend in theme and tone. But I am stuck between caring and uncaring, so I do nothing. Instead, I listen to endless compilations of classical music, loop movie scores, and replay albums. I have even in my most desperate moment listened to Spotify’s ‘Your Favorite Coffeehouse’ , a list manufactured mellow, that made me feel as if I were drowning in pillows. As an amateur music listener, I drift toward the generic and emotional. I am grabbed by obvious arrangements and even more generic lyrics. Sometimes, though, you just need a loyal friend chattering in the background. Someone to stay by your side through the tired midnights. It is a comforting presence, one that I can’t work without.

Corrina Lee

Corrina is a junior majoring in Economics. In her spare time, she enjoys watching movies and television and telling herself that she has time to spare. Someday, she hopes to own a cat.

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