Stop… and take the time to LISTEN to some music

Sir Thomas Beecham music

I like to believe that I lead a busy life, and find myself without enough time for all sorts of things. It’s complete self delusion of course — I’m merely lacking in focus and am thoroughly disorganised. I hastily stumble from task to task without a to-do list and seemingly achieve things by semi-planned but happy accident.

This morning however, as I sat down to plough through another project with a looming deadline, I came across a piece of music I hadn’t heard in a long time. It stopped me in my tracks (figuratively and literally), and before I knew it I’d compiled a playlist of music that transported me back to times before Hip Hop, House, and all those important dance music stops along the way. The morning has evaporated into a beautiful music haze from The Associates, Ryuichi Sakamoto, John Coltrane, Young Marble Giants, The Lotus Eaters, and Maria Callas to name but a few. My mind made me make and take the time to listen.

I found myself completely at peace, unable to fathom this strange feeling of stopping dead and just listening. In my day to day life, music is a soundtrack, a pleasant noise designed to fill the gaps of silence induced by working alone. It is the necessary noise that makes a working atmosphere. I’m not really listening to it though, it’s just on. But here I was, Flares in ears, just listening, and giving absolutely no fucks whatsoever about anything else, not even tea.


Instead of having this feeling of OMG how will I ever hit this deadline, I am now calm and rested by the sound of stunning music. I allowed myself to just switch off completely and not think about anything but the beautiful sound coming into my ears. And it was a transforming experience. And that deadline is easily achievable now that my brain is calm.

It was a little like the first time you hear your favourite tracks through decent speakers. I heard all the things that had passed my by — the intakes of breath, background noises, fingers on strings… just because I had disengaged from thinking or caring about anything else and simply listened.

This sounds like some motivational bullshit doesn’t it? And perhaps to a degree it is. But if you lead a busy life, or one that you delude yourself into believing is busy, just stop for a moment. Find a quiet spot, pop on your headphones, close your eyes (an important step), and simply listen to some beautiful music. Detach yourself for a while and forget about the stresses and strains of modern life. Your Facebook friends can wait to find out what you had for lunch, that email will still be there in 30 minutes, and that text from your boss does not have to be answered until the track has finished. None of this stuff is so important that you have to do it this instant. Push aside all this trivial detritus that you believe to be important and take time for you.

Remember, music isn’t just to be played to a crowd. Just for once, be the crowd, and lose yourself in your own music.


So you ever just listen to music? Like switch everything off, close your eyes and really listen? Is it the same music that you play to a crowd? Or something else?