I conducted a test a couple years ago in which I worked for a week with ear plugs listening to music. Though good for the soul, the type of informal collaboration that I enjoy in our open-floor plan disappeared. Apparently, the ear plugs sent a message to my colleagues, “Do not interrupt!”
Since that experiment, I break out the ear plugs only when I’m ensconced in a conference room focused on an assignment. As a glass-is-half-full type, I’m partial to music with fun and optimistic overtones.
“Thunder Road” by Bruce Springsteen
I can’t listen to Springsteen without rewinding the tape to 1978 when I ended up on stage during his concert in Tucson, Arizona (a story for another time). There’s something about the start of Thunder Road with the harmonica in the background – that is a harmonica right? – that automatically puts me in a good mood. At the end I’m in a convertible with the air whooshing by. Life is good.
“Donne” by Neri Per Caso
I discovered this Italian a cappella band during a stop in Singapore. My favorite album from Neri Per Caso, Le Ragazze, houses my favorite track “Donne” which showcases the band singing at 110 miles an hour like scat only with real words. As an aside, listening to music in another language means the lyrics don’t intrude on your concentration.
“Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles
Hey I’m a baby boomer so of course the Beatles make the list. This song, which showed that George Harrison’s songwriting skills were equal to Paul McCartney and John Lennon’s, oozes optimism.
“L.A. Is Burning” by Bad Religion
You might be wondering how a song about a city on fire puts a bounce in my step. The short answer: I don’t know. While not a huge fan of punk, there’s somethting catchy about this song and lyrics that poke at the media:
"This is not a test
Of the emergency broadcast system
When Malibu fires and radio towers
Conspire to dance again
And I cannot believe the media Mecca
They’re only trying to battle reality, catch it on prime time, story at nine
The whole world is goin’ insane"
“Us” by Regina Spektor
I am a huge fan of the movie “500 Days of Summer,” using the opening narration as part of our storytelling curriculum, “show, don’t tell.” The movie’s killer sound track includes the song “Us” with what sounds like an entire orchestra paving the way for Spektor’s voice. By the end of the song, you believe “they made a statue of us.”
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