Everyone Deserves Walk-Up Music

May I suggest a professional theme song?

Illustration © Ross McCammon

I have this record player next to my desk that has had the same record — side 5 of a live-concert box set — on its turntable since well before the pandemic. And every day when I sit down to work, I reach over my shoulder and press the turntable’s chunky “Start” button. With a certain mechanical reticence, the tonearm rises, moves the cartridge over and onto the disc. The music begins to play, then the audience applauds, and then I check Slack.

I didn’t plan on having walk-up music. The morning I started my professional WFH journey in March of last year, the album on the turntable that happened to be in the room I converted to an office would probably have the effect of making things feel less totally bizarre, so I listened to it while drinking coffee. 400(ish) plays later I have theme music.

(Note: I am not “into vinyl,” but I’m not not into vinyl. What I love most about the record player is that it and the speaker it’s connected to are always on, and it only takes a single button to hear music. Spotify works, too.)

The key is that you commit to a single song.

I wanted a song that would calm my brain. You, like so many San Diego Padres, may want a song that represents the particular brand of grind-it-out intensity with which you approach your job.

Or maybe you just like the song. That’s fine.

No matter what song you choose, know that it’s not only about the strength you get from the song. The other part — maybe the more important part — is how that strength grows over time. You will reeeeeally get to know the song. Yet the song will not remain the same to you. The more you engage with it, the more you will fundamentally understand its cadence and rhythms. But it will become more textured and mysterious and complicated, too. Kind of like having a job.

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Ross McCammon

Ross McCammon

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Author, Works Well With Others: Crucial Skills in Business No One Ever Teaches You // writing about creativity, work, and human behavior, in a useful way