Notes from a Microagency
It can be oddly thrilling to be alone with one’s work. Headphones on, no office politik bullshit to distract you. Just the work and music as the hours burn by.
I left my last job to start Headwaters Content for a few reasons, but one of them was a desire to do the work again. I know that sounds fabulously ridiculous, like a guitarist leaving a band because he wants to play music, but that’s how I felt. I’d worked my way up to Director of Content, and yet, it had been years since I was on the hook for the actual development of content. Years since it was up to me to create the actual deliverable to go to the client. I had to return to my own source of inspiration (the writing, the creating) to get my career flowing again. It seems to be working.
As I am embracing The Work, I’m discovering all sorts of nooks and crannies to my iTunes catalog. Thought I’d share these pairings of songs that made today (a Friday) that much more enjoyable and productive:
- A Day in the Life (The Beatles) followed by Everlasting Light (Black Keys)
Listen to the first 2:15 of “A Day in the Life” and then immediately switch it to “Everlasting Light.” Perfect match, isn’t it? The stomping beat and swaying tenor of this Black Keys’ blues-rock beauty is not only seamless, it demonstrates the timelessness and genius of The Beatles.
- When the Man Comes Around (Johnny Cash) followed by Get Innocuous! (LCD Soundsystem)
On the surface, this pairing makes no sense. Upon second listen, I think I figured out why its so cool. Johnny Cash’s spoken word at the end — a chilling prelude to his impending death — sounds like a tinny LP spinning on a victrola (or a muffled voice message from the afterlife). When followed by the metallic high-hat beat of “Get Innocuous!” the two songs become symbiotically resonant, until the kick-drum beat at 1:38 reaffirms that life goes on.
- Love Like a Sunset, Parts I & II (Phoenix) followed by Vietnow (Rage Against the Machine)
On a Friday afternoon, Rage Against the Machine can follow anything.
- Moondance (Van Morrison) followed by Proud to Be African (Wyclef Jean)
At the end of Van Morrison’s classic sounds-like-autumn-rolling-in ballad “Moondance,” he trembles his voice like a wavering reed. Seconds later, I was listening to Wyclef’s peppy “Proud to Be African,” an odd contrast, but one that was made perfect by Wyclef’s trembling, chortling vocal calls.
- Not Dark Yet (Bob Dylan) followed by Adounia (Bombino)
I need to be distracted to listen to Bob Dylan, otherwise his voice is intolerable. I understand his genius. I’d just rather not listen to him. But “Not Dark Yet” is a rare Bob Dylan tune, perhaps because its sonic shuffling is more the work of Daniel Lanois, the producer of Time Out of Mind. It recalls a campfire, time in the woods, a banner of stars overwhelming you, and when followed by Bombino’s “Adounia,” the presence of wilderness continues and thrives, only this time it feels like you are traveling through the Sahara. Bombino is a Tuareg Jimi Hendrix, and he’s definitely worth a listen if you love Stratocasters and lyrics in a language you don’t need to understand.