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April 6, 2015
In the 1960's, I could write while listening to the Beatles or the Rolling Stones on the record player. Or Beethoven's Ninth. Or Haydn's "Creation." Or Jethro Tull. Or Joan Baez. Or Sibelius, Corelli, or Richard Strauss. Or Stravinsky. Lots of things -- I had a wide range of musical loves, and none of them interfered with my concentration. All my friends did the same.

Something happens to this ability as one ages. Nowadays I can't focus on what I'm writing if music is playing. Just now I tried experimenting with some Baroque strings: perhaps the cool abstraction of the 18th century would leave me alone enough so that I could form some words. No such luck -- the music tugged at my sleeve until I acknowledged its superior claim on me. I t seems I must have quiet.

And I seem to have lost the capacity to receive and love new music styles. Rap music is just beyond me. I don't get heavy metal or house music or techno, if any of those things are still around. If they have come to an end, I don't know about it. They just passed me by. I never learned to love them.

The poor brain! We take its multitasking genius for granted all our lives, demanding that it offer up a dozen lists at once, that it provide us immediately with the correct names of people we haven't seen in decades, all the while supervising our breathing and hundreds of more hidden functions within our bodies. It does this for years without complaint, but then it is just too much.

In this first day of retirement I have taken two naps, and I am about to retire for the night, well before nine. Music has accompanied all of these slumbers. I can still drift off to it, even if I can no longer use it as a backdrop to thought. Music may be stronger than the writing muse, but it seems not to be as strong as the longing for rest.
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