THE STORMING BOHEMIAN PUNKS THE MUSE: don’t be so listless, pal

“So I made a really great playlist last week,” said my friend as we embarked on a several-hour road trip. “You’ll love it.”

“Okay, let’s listen. You know, I’ve never made a playlist.”

My friend stopped fussing with his i-pod. There was a pause and a sharp intake of breath.

“Charles.” This was delivered flatly, with a tone I have learned to recognize. It means, “I don’t believe you said that. Now I’m going to have to set you straight. Pay attention.” Many of my friends have mastered this tone.


“You have to learn how to make a playlist. It’s a basic human experience. You like music, don’t you? Come on!”

“Well, won’t it take a lot of time? I just listen to the stuff I like. What’s the big deal?”

“Dude! The right playlist at the right time can save your life. And it’s one of the best gifts you can make for a friend or a lover. How could you not know this? What have you been doing all your life?” I’ve been asked that a lot.

Anyway, the upshot of the conversation was I promised I would make a playlist and write about it, too. And I will. But not yet. Maybe next week.

This week, though, I’ve been thinking about listmaking as a basic human activity. It certainly is common. A little reflection reminds me of some of the most obvious lists I share with most of my friends, you know, “best ofs:” movies, books, restaurants, etc. Look a bit closer and a few more lists become salient: favorite relatives, long-term friends, least-favorite relatives. This is starting to get fun. It tickles my imagination. Here’s a few ideas for some lists: childhood toys, places I have lived (more than 30), piano pieces I have learned, politicians I’ve voted for, creative projects I’ve completed, best politicians, worst politicians, most interesting trivial facts…

Hmmmm. What’s going on here? This list business gets down to something very basic, I think, about the way we think. How can I use this in my creative work? Aha! I’ll make a “list of lists” that I think might stimulate me. You too, punk.

Here’s some list ideas off the top of my head: names of plants, walks I have taken, types of people I see on the bus, favorite adjectives, animals I’ve known — you get the idea.

How about this one? If you write fiction, take a character and write a few of her lists: what are her favorite books? what childhood toys does she remember? what were her favorite walks?

With a little reflection, you will see many ways to make creative use of list making. It’s grist for the poetry mill.

And, I promise you, this week I’m going to make a playlist (I promised my friend and like an elephant he never forgets). I’ll share it with you for sure.

Feeling listless? Get punking!

Charles Kruger
The Storming Bohemian