As Long As You’re Alive: Getting Stuff Done

I don’t expect to write about the joys of procrastination every day. I’d rather concentrate on the how-to of Getting Things Done. But I had an unexpected kick-in-the-butt moment today whilst visiting one of my favourite ‘five-minute’ sources of healthy procrastination. Which is both a reassurance that procrastination is good, and a mighty reminder that life is short.

Amongst the many great things on NPR’s website, Song of the Day provides a daily shot of music. On the day of writing, there’s a Yeasayer track there, although right now I’m listening to yesterday’s song: John Fogerty gently crooning Rick Nelson’s Garden Party with Don Boys of Summer Henley harmonising in the background. I’m partial to John Fogerty, not because of Bad Moon Rising, but because he has a song about Rhubarb Pie. Mmm. Pie.

I find Song of the Day a cool, barely intrusive injection of music to kick the day along a little. Handy when the ‘Genius’ button is not so bright, or I’m feeling a little out of touch with the latest stuff from working alone for too long. It looks backwards, too, celebrating old songs from newly issued compilations. And if at first it seems indie-centric, dig deeper and there are contemporary Japanese jazz violinists, Sharon Jones, and my secret love: nice big fuzzy guitars.

When you click on a song, the NPR engine creates an instant playlist. Can I love this site enough? NPR even provides whole albums for exclusive preview. (Note to own public radio network: Can Radio New Zealand give a little more love to music on its website, please?). If you have more time, there’s a short story that goes with each song. Otherwise, click on the tunes, line ’em up, push play, and go back to what you were doing.

Until a Song of the Day stops you in your tracks, turning a wee bit of procrastination into a meditation on grief, and the importance of Getting Things Done.

The song is the 1920s sweetie, Blue Skies, as recorded by a young man, his ukulele, and the syrupy vocals of The Manhattan Transfer’s Laurel Masse. It’s from Killian Mansfield’s album Somewhere Else.

Last August, 16 days after the album was released, 16 year old Killian died of a cancer he’d been battling since the age of 11. August 2009 was a bad month for cancer in my corner of the world. Throw in a ukulele, and this song was always going to get me. I had to know who this fella was, and what drove him to get his album finished, heavy with morphine and lacking half a jaw.

If you need some inspiration today, a reason to knuckle down and tackle your Ta-Da List, go ahead and read Killian’s story as told by New York Magazine.

I’m off to get some more stuff done!

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