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21 Jan

I don’t believe in inspiration. That’s not true. Recently I was inspired while driving, inspired to make a reckless u-turn…the silver lining is that I now know how to remove the inner panels of my car doors and three methods of dent removal.

Inspiration is a pagan belief. It’s also an excuse. It’s been a long time since anyone could feasibly claim herself pregnant due to some amorous god, yet not a day goes by without inspiration being claimed and accepted as real. Let’s say it has nothing to do with gods or ether, but is really just one of those proverbial lightbulbs, the right recipe of time and happenstance. That’s reasonable. But that’s not how Warren Buffett–or Jimi Hendrix–became successful.

The point is that a lot of those silly things that I do are finally paying off. Did it ever occur to me that they would? Did I take pride in them? No. It was for pure pleasure that I spent ages figuring out what shape my mouth could make to represent any given instrument. Why? Because I enjoy learning the music on albums and imitating the instruments as I sing their parts. I also enjoy finding novel ways to annoy my sister. One of them is to cover my nose and mouth with a large glass, so that it’s hard to hear me, and then try to have conversations with her, you know, across the table, but I’m screaming at the top of my lungs into the glass, but it comes out really soft. It’s obnoxious as hell.

Combine these two ideas? And that’s why they hired me. I don’t have perfect pitch, but when a blender whirrs, or a truck roars, or a dog farts, at least once a day I know I’ve heard the spit and image of that note in a song by the Beatles. So when I asked them to try grabbing a saucepan, to hit it with the side of a wooden spoon, first on its bottom, and then its side–and it made precisely the tone and the notes I’d written and recorded with actual instruments…I wasn’t entirely surprised.

I spent days composing and recomposing a scene based on notes and a script that were fairly vague to me. But that’s part of my job, taking vague words and turning them into sound. The surprise was when the director’s jaw dropped. The surprise was when the cast applauded upon first hearing a recording of me singing their parts in falsetto.

But for all the fun I have, now it’s getting down to business. For the first time in my life, I’m learning what music is and how to make it.

Yesterday, ten hours. Today, eight.

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