72 Comments

Ok I definitely need any book of poetry that was written while listening to Neko Case, Wilco, and Arcade Fire.

Like every other gay out there, I’m bouncing pretty steadily between boygenius and Taylor Swift at the moment. And because I’m 44 years old, there’s always a solid base of Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, and Radiohead keeping my life more or less together.

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I almost always listen to film score while writing (I have a pretty large vinyl collection, mostly film score and holiday music), but I do make some exceptions for music with lyrics. I'll put on Aaron West & The Roaring Twenties albums back to back to back since they're basically one long fictional novel about Aaron West (a fictional creation of lead singer Dan "Souply Campbell" - also the lead singer of The Wonder Years). It's just so, so good and hard to stop listening to once you get going.

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Big strong recommend to the Substack from Flow State for instrumental music if that’s your thing (it’s mine and I find a lot of great stuff in their suggestions).

Also a wee bit obsessed with Victory’s music - her playlist is fantastic. On Spotify here https://open.spotify.com/playlist/2qQnyLkQpnOU9k1tAGzSDY?si=maVPVhhYTh-7043hLcsHCA

Right now Mahalia Jackson is on repeat for me - if it’s possible to shake the etch-sketch of your brain and clear things out, her voice does it!

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I love listening to Florence and the Machine or Bon Iver while writing poetry & prose. I gather the same inspiration from music for my writing like you do. I swear I thought I was the only one 😅

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I made a playlist called Evergreen House last year when I was going through betrayal and divorce and it made me feel how I wanted to feel in my new house and new life. And now I listen to it in my new home and life all the time. Lots of Hozier, The Lone Bellow, Brandi Carlile, Mumford and Sons, Roo Panes, and Hollow Coves. xx

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I am definitely one of the 20-something queer women who has been all over The National's "sad dad" music for years -- but especially this new album. Amid a lot of change and anxiety their songs feel like such a good container/cradle for worry, as well as a reminder that it's possible to create and connect from that place.

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I like your choices in music, Maggie! I cannot listen to music and write at the same time. I don't know why, but probably because I am trained as a musician, so I can't hear a note without going full-on into the music and paying attention to the music. But in between reading and writing, I often listen to music and usually make playlists after the fact. Here's one I made for my book of poems: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3cCoFnH8fb0fmEoLFWPPK8?si=8f6065dade3a46fd

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Wow--I just started listening to Hem's Rabbit Songs again after having forgotten about it--I used to sing blow the moon out please to my son when he was little. 💜 He loved it and we'd make up new verses--about construction trucks. Ha! Love knowing others love writing to these albums too--so many are ones I love as well. Mojave 3 excuses for travelers, Trying to Reach You. Just perfect.

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I'm so the opposite. Music inspires me to write (I have hours-long, curated playlists), but I can't listen to it while I'm writing. I hear music while I'm writing scenes (it's often playing in the background; my characters have great taste in music BTW). But I'll have a film playing while I write. Not sure how my brain is mapped, but I'll accept my odd bird status. xo

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Your playlists are so much cooler than mine. I love these suggestions (and will quietly pretend not to be listening to Lana Del Rey on repeat ;-)

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I usually say “Hey Alexa, play WFMU!” and go from there.

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May 27, 2023Liked by Maggie Smith

Kate Rusby, Fruit Bats, Kathleen Edwards, Sarah Jarosz, Tallest Man on Earth, Sturgill Simpson, Loudon Wainwright, Iron & Wine, Jason Isbell, Donna the Buffalo, Charlotte Cornfield, Joan Shelley, Great Lake Swimmers, Patty Griffin, Justin Rutledge, Elliott BROOD, Kacey Musgraves, Chris Smither, Dan Bern, David Francey, Aimee Mann. Fleet Foxes are coming to Edmonton Folk Fest in August and there is room on my tarp for you. When I finished your book I had two songs in my head for days: "Done" by Frazey Ford, and "To Ohio" by The Low Anthem.

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May 27, 2023Liked by Maggie Smith

If you have not listened to First Aid Kit from Sweden you are missing out

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May 27, 2023Liked by Maggie Smith

We have eerily similar tastes in music and life trajectories. One album I leaned on heavily during my brutal pandemic divorce was Kathleen Edwards Failure. It’s full of righteous rage and I needed that when I was too exhausted to summon rage of my own. Highly recommend.

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After reading this piece Maggie, I went to some of your playlists and lost myself in Goldenrod, thank you. Music is such a transportive portal for me, a lot like poetry. Have you listened to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds? Two albums that enchant me and lyrically bring me to my knees are Ghosteen and Skeleton Tree. x

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May 27, 2023Liked by Maggie Smith

I make a playlist every year on the anniversary I was laid off from a job I loved (near the beginning of the pandemic). Music got me through that tough time, so each year I compile the music that's been inspiring me the most. Here's this year's: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3Uf1vjRq5A1CVacelhJIUH

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