Let’s face it, being a student right now, in any form of schooling, is difficult at best. To try and get one’s head down into a book among the hormones and home entertainment systems is difficult enough without a worldwide pandemic, ensuring that the only teaching you receive is through a laptop. As such, we’ve been looking for a way for us to help ease some of the burdens for stressed-out students by bringing you this perfect playlist from Bill Murray.
The acclaimed actor and all-round hero, Murray has often signalled the benefits of music. The actor has never been shy from sharing a few bars of his favourite songs, both in and outside the movie set, but he has also shared the healing power of music. He once spoke candidly of how, after instruction from Gonzo writer Hunter S Thompson, Murray discovered the songwriter John Prine and found, in him, humour that would help lift him out of depression. It was just one crystalline moment where Murray has leaned on the musical world for some personal nourishment.
As equally charged about sharing music as he is about the joys of learning, it seems only fitting that in 2016, Murray teamed up with Spotify to share an ‘Intense Studying’ playlist. Released in conjunction with New Worlds an album released that year which saw Murray reading poetry while accompanied by supreme cellist Jan Vogler, the playlist had long since disappeared but, thanks to Oona Prozinski, we can share it below. There are some moments from the LP littered throughout the playlist, as well as some other classic pieces from the likes of Ludovico Einaudi, but the real joy is hearing Murray’s advice.
Whether it’s because Murray exudes a kind of counterculture freedom — one that suggests the very essence of learning should be enjoyment — or just his usual affable style, the advice lands rather heavily, especially considering today’s climate of learning.
“Here’s the thing about intense studying,” recalls the poet/actor/singer, “You can’t cram. If you go away and study something else you can learn better. I recommend you go do something else. You’ll feel so clever and renaissance that you can move from subject to subject. And when you return to the subject you’re currently failing, you’ll feel smarter.”
It doesn’t stop there as he interjects between some more classical pieces and his own readings of classic literature: “If you have to memorise something and you have to jam it and cram it and stam it and blam it, you’ll have trouble with it. But if you’re doing it with enough amount of time, you can relax and do it, because you have to learn it in your body.
“So if you have to memorise it, read it over just before you go to sleep, go to sleep, wake up, and do it first thing in the morning. You have the pages right next to you. Not only have you rested well and comfortably knowing you’re going to attend your work in the morning, but somehow the brain has taken it and worked on it in the night.”
The real advice from Murray is simple: let learning be fun and try to enjoy the moments you can. While the thought of getting out of school and into the real world now feels more tantalising than ever, the truth is, that without the ingrained learning that school provides, the real world can be pretty bleak. So, as Murray suggests, best to have fun with it and enjoy the ride.
Below, find Bill Murray’s perfect playlist for intense studying.