I've been doing a lot of work in Starbucks lately, writing my novel mostly. I spend a couple hours there every Saturday and Sunday morning, sipping my mocha Valencia, sometimes eating some pineapple, and trying to get about a thousand words on the page before heading home to my family. Working there usually means being away from my 8-year-old, who often wants to be on the computer, and it means being off the Internet, so I'm not checking email or visiting a half-dozen web sites every time my thought process stalls. Or, heaven forbid, logging in to World of Warcraft. ("Just to check my auctions!")
In fact, I've even been taking my son there in the afternoons twice a week, while my wife is off teaching at Seattle University. (Side note: My father ended up with a student in one of his classes who was familiar with my work. I think it would be pretty darned funny if my wife had students who were D&D players. Anyone reading this who's taking a theology class with Prof. Wyatt at Seattle U? That's my sweetie!) I leave work early and bring him, with his game boy, to Starbucks while I try to get some more work done.
So the upshot of all this time at Starbucks is more than a highly-caffeinated lifestyle. I've also been hearing the same music on a regular basis for a long time. (Pretty much the whole month of February and the beginning of March; they've changed playlists recently.) And there was one song I kept hearing that just grabbed me, but I could never hear it well enough to identify it. It turned out to be "Weather Channel," by Sheryl Crow. I found it a couple of weeks ago, downloaded it from the iTunes Music Store, and have listened to it a lot since then.
So let me explain: I am the most casual of Sheryl Crow fans. She only caught my attention when I watched the video for "Soak Up the Sun" on the iTMS. I bought that single, then went looking for more. I found The Very Best of Sheryl Crow and found myself saying, "Oh, she did that?" A bunch of songs that I had heard and liked well enough, but that never grabbed me enough to go figure out who they were by. Plus, you know, those songs came out before the iTMS. I buy a lot more music now than I used to.
So it took me a long time to find that song. I spent many hours browsing the iTMS, looking for mellow songs by female artists, listening to the samples to see if they sounded like the merest snippets I could barely keep in my head from the song played too quietly over the din of Starbucks on a Sunday morning. (Another side note: I think that my local Starbucks is practically an outpost for the growing megachurch down the road. I'm pretty sure that all sorts of semi-official church meetings, fellowship groups, and Bible studies take place in that Starbucks rather than in the gigantic building this church erected a couple of years ago. I actually think that's pretty cool.)
Along the way, I discovered some great music. That's the real point of all this. I don't think there's any chance I would ever have discovered Beth Waters if I hadn't been searching for this song. (Now that's weird. The album of hers that I bought seems no longer to be on the store! Find her self-titled album if you can.) I bought "Today's the Day" by Aimee Mann because I had also heard it at Starbucks, just barely loud enough to make out enough words to search on, and conflated the two songs in my head. It wasn't until about two Starbucks visits after I bought that song that I realized there were two different songs by mellow female vocalists that I liked, and I had only found one of them.
So what I have for you now is two playlists: One is most of the songs that were playing in Starbucks for pretty much the month of February. The other is my new mellow female vocalists playlist.