I hate working in silence, but I also hate working around noises that I have not personally selected. As such, I rarely work outside of my apartment, as the hustle and bustle, conversations, and music played in coffee shops are usually too distracting.
I basically have two categories of “working music”: music I write too (very chill) and music I cook to (less chill). Writing music must be not too loud, at least a little relaxing, and very familiar to me. Music I cook has to be enjoyable throughout the entire playlist or album, as my hands tend to get greasy/wet/covered in flour while cooking, and I don't want to have to stop to wash them so I can skip a song. Below you will find ten playlists and albums that keep me cooking and typing. Feel free to borrow them for your workday, if you like what you hear.
My “Write Bitch” Playlist
This 64-song, 4-hour playlist is ever-evolving, but is mostly comprised of chill music I've heard a million times. It's a lot of Belle & Sebastian and Magnetic Fields, along with some random stuff from the 90's, like Sneaker Pimps and the Chris Isaak. Basically, it's stuff I know all the words to, so I'm not constantly going “what did they just say?”
My “Sweet 70's” Playlist
I'm actually not sure if all of these groovy tunes are technically from the 70's, as I've added a lot of songs without verifying their dates, but this list is mostly a healthy mixture of slightly corny ballads with singer/songwriter stuff and it works well for both writing and cooking. It also features both versions of Don McLean's “Castles in the Air” because I can't decide which one I like more.
The Set List from the Stephin Merritt Show I Went to Last Year
I saw Stephin Merritt perform last year, and it was one of my favorite shows of all time, so this particular collection of songs always puts me in a good mood. I'm particularly fond of this set because each song starts with a different letter of the alphabet (in order, A-Z).
Belle & Sebastian's Spotify Playlist “It Could Have Been a Brilliant Career”
This list is the band's favorite songs from their 11-album catalogue, and contains some gems that you may have glossed over before. I'm particularly fond of “Take This Carriage Clock and Shove It” and “Blue Eyes of a Millionaire.”
A Bunch of Different Versions of the Same Song
I have two of these. One is for “Both Sides Now” and the other is for “Long Black Veil.” Both are good for writing because of their repetitive, calming natures.
Ghost by Radical Face
I used to do thermodynamics homework to this album. If it can keep calm and productive during thermo homework, it can keep me calm and productive through anything.
Anything by José González
José González has the power to take any song and make it super soothing. This is one instance where unfamiliar music isn't distracting, even if I haven't heard the lyrics before. It's just that chill.
Blue by Joni Mitchell
Technically my productivity is momentarily interrupted when she gets to “The Last Time I Saw Richard,” because of feelings, etc., but that's at the end anyway.
Closing Time by Tom Waits
Tom Waits' debut album doesn't contain any of this trademark growly monster vocal stylings, but it does contain some of the most beautifully tender songs ever written.
You Can't Hide Your Love Forever by Orange Juice
If you're thinking to yourself “Jesus, Claire sure brings this band/album up a lot,” it's because I do. Though it's a little too upbeat for writing — I end up distracting myself with my awesome dance moves — it's perfect for cooking up your amazing Recipe of the Week offerings and mixing up your drink recommendations.
What music do you play while working? Does it need to be peppy or super calm? Lyrics or no? Let's talk productivity.