Whatnot, Writing 101: Class of 2014
Comments 7

Reading Books and Listening to Music

The currently-reading stack and the surviving CDs

Can you read books and listen to music at the same time? Some people can’t read without their earphones stuck inside their ears. Some need complete silence. I belong to the latter group.

As much as I’d like to engage in these two activities simultaneously, I just can’t. Reading demands my full focus because it’s both intellectually and emotionally entertaining. Music is just as demanding, although I think of it more as an emotional stimulant. Good music makes me feel the mood it tries to evoke in the listener. I feel winter even if I lived all my life in a tropical country or feel the gravity of a breakup song even if I’m not going through one. Good music also helps me write, but it has to be ambient or classical music. Otherwise, I end up straining my vocal cords to hit those high notes.

Some of my avid readers (I daresay there must be at least one, and I am that person) know why I named my blog Book Rhapsody. It was supposed to be a blog about books and music. The musical part of this blog just faded without notice because I find it hard to write about music. When I try to, I feel that my post is mostly fangirling.

Lest you wonder why I am talking about this, today’s assignment at Writing 101, a blogging course organized by WordPress, is about music. I know this is a book blog. That’s why I tried to relate books with music at the beginning of this post. But today’s task is too specific. I don’t think there’s a way out of this, and I want to finish this course that would help me build my blogging habit.

Enough disclaimers. Here’s the task at hand:

Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you?

Today, try free writing. To begin, empty your mind onto the page. Don’t censor yourself; don’t think. Just let go. Let the emotions or memories connected to your three songs carry you.

Today’s twist: You’ll commit to a writing practice. The frequency and the amount of time you choose to spend today — and moving forward — are up to you, but we recommend a minimum of fifteen uninterrupted minutes per day.

[15 minutes start now.]

Important Song #1: Tiger by Paula Cole, from the album This Fire

I discovered Paula Cole’s music when I was a pimply fourteen-year-old who’s pretending to be a straight guy and who’s afraid to admit that he’s gay. I bought the album because I wanted to separate my musical taste from my cousins’ (they mostly listened to the rock bands of the 90s). I really didn’t know what to expect from This Fire and the only song that I knew then was I Don’t Want to Wait. So it was a risk. And it was a risk worth taking.

Tiger, the first track of the album, asks the following question:

Where do I put this fire
This bright red feeling
This tiger lily down my mouth
He wants to grow to twenty feet tall

I feel that it’s a song that matched what I was going through. I was hiding. I was adhering to people’s expectations. I went out with “friends” because it was not cool to walk around the campus alone, even if these “friends” were not the kind of people whom I would want to hang out.

[Someday, someday, someday I’ll be born]

I was estranged from these “friends.” They organized lunch outs and Saturday movie dates without me. Fine. I don’t like them anyway. I was listening to Paula Cole all throughout this phase. Tiger became the anthem of my coming of age. I stopped pretending that I intended to court one of my girl classmates. I stopped pretending that I enjoyed talking porn with my boy classmates. I became a sort of delinquent. But I was good at school (I still got very good grades) so it didn’t really bother my classmates that I was becoming too angsty for their tastes. Rawr.

Important Song #2: A Matter of Minutes by Shawn Colvin, from the album Whole New You

I came across this song at a very depressing point of my life. It was when I felt that the future held nothing good for me. One of my cousins gave me a Shawn Colvin CD. The actual CD is her greatest hits album. I asked for her A Few Small Repairs album, but this is what she found. I’m super glad of it still.

This is more of a breakup song. Shawn sings about a relationship that doesn’t seem right, and that whatever she does, nothing seems to make the relationship grow.

[I can’t meet you halfway and I can’t have it my way and I can’t give up without a fight]

I’ve never been in relationship before I heard this song, but I replaced the “you” in the song not with an imaginary partner but with life. I felt like I was striving so hard but my life and I were just not hitting it right. I nearly came to that moment when I could say:

I can get myself clean
In a matter of minutes
Get it wrong every time
All of my whole world
And all the things in it
Are hard to, hard to find

I didn’t pack myself up. I almost did, but not like kill myself. I just wanted to run away from everyone. From everything. But I didn’t.

I guess gave in and fought in the way that I know how. I guess it paid off. I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I just gave it all up. Where would I be now? Would I be blogging about this same topic? Would I have the same feelings and thoughts? Big questions, but so little time to answer them.

[At this point, my fifteen minutes twist is up.]

Important Song #3: Cloud on My Tongue by Tori Amos, from the album Under the Pink

This is more like a current last song syndrome (LSS) for me. I could select other important songs but this demands that I should write about it. The song has a little story. A girl is in love with a guy who’s in love with everyone. Girl wants the guy to leave her and tells him the following:

You’re already in there
I’ll be wearing your tattoo
I’m already in
Circles and circles and circles again

It’s strange how I could relate to this. But if you remember, I could replace any guy in a song with life. The song could probably be an apt description of my life at many points, and now is one of those moments. I have to stop spinning, but I keep going in circles again.

[Leave me with your Borneo, leave me the way I was before]

I think I have to curl up after I hit the Publish button. No, I’d probably think of a hundred other songs that had a great impact on me. I might even end up making a play list.



  1. Monique says

    I love all three artists! Although my favorite songs from each of them is different: from Paula Cole, it’s “Me”; from Shawn Colvin, it’s “Sunny Came Home”; and from Tori Amos, it’s “Sleeps with Butterflies.” :D


    • Oh my! I love those three as well. I even tried to study Sunny Came Home on the guitar. Passable, but not quite there. :D


    • Monique says

      Also, for some reason, I seem to be unable to focus on what I’m reading when I’m listening to music, but only when it’s leisure-reading. When I put on my earpods and read at work, I can actually focus! Dunno why. Perhaps I need a picker-upper in the form of music when it comes to work. Haha.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Same here! I sometimes can’t help myself. I hum along while doing my tasks. My office mates don’t seem to mind me because we all do it anyway. :D


    • No, I just meant that if I have to listen and read at the same time, I can only do it with instrumental music. But I rarely do both at the same time. I like listening to music and reading books separately and independent from each other.


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