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I was first introduced to Sigur Ros in the best possible manner – by a beautiful girl. The year was 2001. I was a sophomore at American University in D.C.. While moving in I saw a girl with long brown hair sitting in the hallway and knew I would have a crush on her. Later that day she came to show my roommate and I her new Clash poster and that was good enough for me. A couple months later we would end up getting close and spending many nights drinking together, usually alone in her room, listening to music.

One of these nights while I was most likely laying on the floor with a concoction of vodka, cherry coke and Mrs. Freshley’s indestructible pastries from the vending machine in my belly, she put on Sigur Ros’ second record, Ágætis byrjun. I had never heard anything quite like it and was immediately entranced. One of my first thoughts, which I’m sure I’m not alone on, was “I want this record playing at my funeral.” It was just so unearthly and beautiful. The young lady in question and I would end up estranged after some time, but I will always think fondly of her when I hear that record, firmly convinced that, if for no other reason (okay, there were many, but to make this a little more melodramatic), she entered my life to introduce me to this band.

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My cat enjoying a sun bath and Valtari

I assume that pretty much anyone who would be reading this post is already well aware of this band, but in case a few aren’t, here’s the facts – Sigur Ros is not a band that can be sufficiently described, but have to be experienced. From Iceland, they have been around for nearly 20 years, (UPDATE: Make that EXACTLY 20 years today!) making their wholly original brand of music which is most often lumped in the post-rock category but is pretty unique. They’ve put out seven full-lengths since 1997, their most recent being last year’s Kveikur.

Ah, but this is supposed to be about writing. The Sigur Ros record I listen to most often while writing is 2002’s ( ). I got this record in early 2003 and played it absolutely non-stop. (Listening to Sigur Ros on headphones while doing pretty much anything makes it feel epic). Later that year I would meet another beautiful girl. She would turn out to be one of the most influential people that I would ever meet and inspired me to write, and to write often. That record and her collided in my mind – both inspiring on their own, once combined there was nothing I wanted to do other than to create beautiful things, drowning in words and dying happy. The record meant so much to me that for my 28th birthday in 2010 I got a tattoo of the sleepwalking child that is on the back cover. (Which, I’m sad to say, only two people I’ve met have recognized. I guess I’m just not meeting the right people.)

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Sigur Ros tattoo from ( ).

Here’s the first track from the record. All it takes is the first couple notes and I’m gone for at least an hour.

What do you like to listen to while writing? Does it vary depending what you’re working on?

Check out the official Sigur Ros site here.