1. Mariah Carey, "Dreamlover"
    It's so simple, so perfectly pop, but at the same time there's a wistfulness to this song that reminds me of what it feels like to try to actualize an idea that's just beyond your grasp.
  2. All Debussy, but especially La Mer and the preludes
    Classical music is obviously always a good fallback, but what makes Debussy unique is that he was a musician who thought in images. Great for writing because it mirrors through music the intellectual process of translating images and ideas into words.
  3. Frank Ocean
    Where's the new album at Frankie??? Don't you know I've got work to do?
  4. David Bowie, "Sound + Vision"
    So energetic and the lyrics are both evocative and unobtrusive.
  5. The album Eydie Gorme did with el Trio De Los Panchos
    Bossa nova love songs—perfect because they're both hyper romantic and a little ironic. Plus when your Spanish is as dilapidated as mine, you feel the songs without getting hung up on the words.
  6. Tchaikovsky's 6th symphony
    Sweep me up in your elemental sadness Pyotr! His 5th symphony is more famous, but listening to this feels like the sensation of falling in a dream.
  7. Joanna Newsom, "Cosmia"
    Maybe my all time favorite lyricist, so sometimes her songs can be a distraction—as with Joni Mitchell or Fiona Apple, it can be too tempting to just stop working so you can listen to what she's saying. But "Cosmia" is great for writing because of how baroque and complex the music is. It feels broken up into sections, so you drift in and out of her words rather than getting sucked into the storytelling.
  8. Dinah Washington, "This Bitter Earth"
    I almost didn't want to share this one because it's so good that I'm afraid it'll create a Popeye-on-spinach effect that makes everyone's writing better than mine.