If you are a graduate student busy and worried writing a thesis, and in need of spiritual encouragement on this long and forking path, I’d like to suggest to tune to WBGO, the 24-hour, public, commercial-free, Jazz Radio Station from Newark, New Jersey. If Jazz is not the food of clear and insightful writing, I don’t know what is.
Until a few years ago, this valuable advice was only useful under rather stringent boundary conditions: roughly speaking, you had to be a student in the Newark or New Brunswick campuses of Rutgers University, or in Manhattan (probably; I didn’t have the opportunity to try from Columbia, for instance). However, nowadays you can access the radio stream any time on the internet, by following the link above. (The boundary condition were indeed rather strict; a minor heartbreak when moving for a postdoc to Princeton University was that, from there, barely twenty mile from New Brunswick, the radio signal did not reach my apartment or office…)
The efficiency of this musical infusion is proved not only by my own case (I was in Rutgers in 1995-98), but in a conclusive second proof by my student Florent Jouve in his acknowledgements for his recently completed thesis.
Note: if you end up following this advice, consider also contributing to the radio station, which relies on its listeners to stay on the air.
Note bis: if you use Linux, following the links to listen to WBGO may lead to difficulties with media plugins; however, the VLC program works (at least for me on a recent Fedora), with the command line
vlc http://wbgo.org/listennow/wbgo.asx &