I was taking a break from watching Netflix the other day when I heard a surprisingly stellar set of music on the radio. If you listen to radio, you understand that this isn’t (necessarily) an everyday thing. It started off with a classic by Violent Femmes, “Blister in the Sun.” (YouTube the scene in My So-Called Life where Angela dances in her bedroom to this song for fifty-two seconds of pure, nineties bliss.) Up next was Vampire Weekend-esque “Suicide Saturday” by Minnesota-bred Hippo Campus, and BØRNS’ “10,000 Emerald Pools” By the time the cover of Talking Heads’ legendary “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)” by Iron & Wine and Ben Bridwell came on, it was over. I reference this experience not to encourage you to revert to old media (I don’t own a record player or anything), but rather to show how I listen to music.
To begin with, one of the reasons why I listen to the radio is because I’m a big fan of the “shuffle” feature. In life and with music, I shuffle. I assumed this was because I’m wildly indecisive, but then I read something that offered a better, more spiritual explanation.
I was reading a book with a collection of techniques for reaching deeper levels of creative thought;, with an intriguing chapter on “ornithomancy.” Ornithomancy is divination—the practice of seeking knowledge of the future or the unknown in signs in the present—with birds. I’m not going to go there exactly. Divination comes in many other forms. The basic idea is to allow flowing patterns to inspire one’s thoughts, with the potential for new insight or creativity.
I considered divination with music only a moment before discovering I was doing it already. The more I think about it, music influences most people the same way. For example, you hear a song you like, and it puts you in a good mood. Now you’re all, :Today is the day!” when suddenly, it actually is (Chapter 12: “Manifestation”). So what if my musical story is based on an overpriced coffee table book. I can do magic, and so can you.