I’ve been meaning to write this for a long time.
A lot of you readers these days are fellow students of law at GW (Go Colonials, or something…). So I don’t need to tell you how hard law school can be, or how much time we spend reading, preparing for class (or now as it’s mid-November, finals). For those of you not in law school and not a member of our noble profession, you might have some offhand familiarity with the subject through books like One-L or movies like The Paper Chase:
or, for that matter, Legally Blonde:
Now, this does not reflect reality – at least not at this school, and from what I hear not at that old one up by the Charles River, either. Our teachers are not fiends out to get us, but actually incredibly nice and warm people (not to mention brilliant minds). But this is a fairly good representation of a law student’s fundamental fears. We try not to embarrass ourselves in class, out of respect for our professors (whom we respect quite highly) and our peers (who like the pace of class to be swift, not stagnant in hesitation). As a consequence – and truthfully the reason why we are here and paying so much money – we study very, very hard. We try to never fall behind in reading, at the expense of social activity and the slacking off we all enjoyed as undergrads. Although we settle into more of a gentle routine as the months progress, we never take the time to pause and reflect that what we call a “gentle routine” today was “absurdly hard working” only a few months ago. When you spend all day running, you start to think that jogging is taking it easy.
Now we all have our mechanisms for dealing with this heavy workload. Some of us institute a regimen of exercise, some of us make a point to go out every Thursday night and drink, some of us start movie watching groups (or, as my friends do, call every Sunday night West Wing night, and pile into a friend’s room for a couple hours). For me, the thing that is carrying me through the hundreds of pages I read on any given week and hours I spend preparing for class is, no surprise, music. Listening to music and writing here are how I fill the hours I don’t spend in solitude at the library.
But, as you might expect, it has to be the right music, and not just the music that I really like. For example, I will drive for hours on end listening to London Calling, but I can’t focus on reading while Strummer and Jones are in my ear. I get too distracted. I want to play guitar or dance about or something. So I need albums that will get me into a little groove, just enough to tap my feet or rock in my chair, while not pulling me away from subject matter jurisdiction, equitable estoppel, mens rea for homicides, or negligent tortfeasors. So, less London Calling and more Sandinista!. I like the former more, but I can study better with the latter.
I’m going to start sharing these albums here, for a few reasons. First, they are all amazing albums and come with a very hearty recommendation. These are not just good albums to study with, but also good albums in general. Second, for my law school friends, maybe this will help you out with your work, too. I hope it does. And third, these are good study albums in general, for whatever it is you do these days. Be it working with blood diseases at a Cambridge biotech firm, troubleshooting the IT of the United Nations, hyping up the infectiously distracting content over at Gamesville, zipping photo lenses across the country from a secret basement headquarters, sabotaging the movie-watching plans of patrons in the video section of bookstore, assessing research grants in air quality for the government, studying music and public health in New Orleans, fixing bikes, studying digital audio synthesis, or leading environmental revolutions (and not the other kind, I think) in certain peninsular countries in Asia – everyone needs some good study music. So I hope these can help you out, too.
So the first installment, coming your way shortly, is what I’m listening to right now. Stay tuned.