Like, I suspect, many creative-types, I do my best work if there’s music on. (Although I have recently discovered that I do better photography if I’m listening to Greg Proops’ The Smartest Man in the World podcasts. Probably because I dance less, laugh more.) And of course, different music brings about different writing moods. What I listen to when I’m polishing is not the same music I listen to when I’m creating.
When I’m creating, by far the best music is that of the 80s. 80s power ballads. 80s anthems. Hair metal, rock, gangsta rap – chances are pretty good if it was played on the radio in the 1980s, I not only know it, but can sing the entire song at a moment’s notice. (I’ve often wondered what better use I could have put that brain space to – can you imagine?)
Of course, you really can’t have 80s music without talking about the influence of John Hughes, because music made his movies. And unfortunately, I think they rather ruined me on what to expect out of life. (Those of you pausing to do the math, relax. Although I am the oldest of my siblings, I was not that precocious as a kid. I had older uncles living with me, closer in age to a sibling than a parent. They exposed me to much of the 80s earlier than I would have encountered it on my own.) Because in every John Hughes movie, there’s that moment where the song overwhelms the story, and everyone starts singing or dancing or standing outside a window with a boombox and heart, the pretty quiet girl gets the dress, dance, or guy, and the saxophone underscores everything.
I’ve had this conversation with one of the Television Without Pity writers before; she maintains that no one who lives in real life dances down the street, or has people spontaneously break into song around them, or any of the other tropes that became tropes because they showed up in a John Hughes movie.
Which is probably why I love working at MilkBoy Coffee so much. Because sitting here, when the 80s music is on, all the people quietly doing their work, job search, or studying will start tapping their foot, nodding their head, and quietly singing along. Voices Carry, indeed. That, of course, is not so odd or unusual.
But having the entire coffee shop break out into song as one of the baristas jumped on the stage to loudly sing the chorus of Beds Are Burning?
That just confirms that I’m not the only one who thinks life should be a John Hughes movie.