Serve 1: MUSIC IS MOVING.
Music tickles the parts of our emotional receptors we don’t have the time to understand. We don’t know why Billy Joel makes us weep with pleasure or why Bananarama make us break out in hotflushes of tears and love when that soaring chorus kicks in. But it does, and that doesn’t help us write a sentence. All we’d ever write is OMG I LUV YOU BILLY JOEL LICK ME LICK ME LICK ME, OH BILLY!
Serve 2: MUSIC HAS WORDS.
When we write we need words, as a rule. It’s a good idea on the whole to use words, and not, say, numbers or invisible words, like blank spaces. We could use symbols, like →→→→→→→→→→←←←←←←←←←← but that’s not going to outclass Javier Marias, is it? So we end up putting song lyrics papa don’t preach subliminally into our like a virgin text. And BMG will kill us music makes the people come together for that!
Serve 3: YOUR MUSIC IS NOT AS GOOD AS MINE.
One reason the 30 Day Song Challenge on Facebook irked me was that music love is (and should be) a selfish thing. No one really “shares” a playlist. People post links to the music they like and expect people to listen and congratulate them on their fine aesthetic standards and melodic ear. Nope! We hate it! All your music sucks! When you give a friend a CD of your favourite band, they will put this CD behind the microwave for fourteen years unless you ring them up every hour asking them HAVE YOU LISTENED YET? This has nothing to do with writing, I only wanted to make that point.
Serve 4: MUSIC DISTRACTS.
This is mainly an extension of the first two points, but it’s true. Music wants to be listened to and analysed like a poem or Lydia Davis. Or, at least, the annoying serious literate rock stuff does. The Smiths and co. They are “poets” and want their words to be studied in tandem with the music. So you can’t write and listen as they will bitch about you not paying attention, not understanding them, then sue you for accidental plagiarism.
Serve 5: HOW CAN YOU ACCESS YOUR BRAIN WITH THAT RACKET GOING ON?
Unless you write entirely from the subconscious like some robotic Joyce Carol Oates android baby mother child doctor creature thing android monkey caravan, you’ll need to think about the order which in place you words. You’ll need to spend twenty minutes choosing between screamed or shrieked, then delete the whole sentence and story, then read an AL Kennedy blog and want to punch her smug prize-gobbling gub in (kidding—I like AL, but you have to bitch-slap the best from time to time), then have nine baths and smack your kids. (Why don’t they just shut UP?) You can’t think straight if Mick Hucknall is prancing around your perineum trying to juice the sluice.*
Serve 6: YOU LIKE TO SING!
Listen to you! Golden tonsils! Listen to you belt out that Queen number when you should be writing a paragraph of description about how Kerry feels abstaining from alcohol after her cousin Jim forced her to drink her body weight in Hooch that night in Invergordon. You can’t stop yourself, you little diva! Given the chance, you’d do a SuBo and light up the sky with your money lungs, even though you sound like a cat smashing a violin against a piano in a room full of people being stabbed outside Kelis’s recording studio.**
Serve 7: THE CHAIN OF SONG NEVER ENDS.
With song comes memory, and with memory comes more songs and more memories. You should listen to music that has no effect on you whatsoever. Background fuzz. This is why people write in cafes. Coldplay in the background and that numbing DJ prattle. The numbness of FM radio has probably lead to some moments of real clarity and artistic accomplishment.
Your serve. Game, set and match, silence!
* I have no idea what this means.
** Think again when you say ‘I like Kelis,’ because you’ve probably been conditioned by Ingsoc’s Ministry of Shit Pop.