Today is No Music Day, according to ex-KLF man Bill Drummond. November 21, he says, should be a day where we avoid listening to music and instead think about what we want from it. As Drummond is both crazy and wise, I decide to do his bidding, to see what will happen.
8.45am: I leave home without my iPod, and as I walk the usual route to the tube, find myself unable to think in a straight line. Bits of songs keep coming on in my head and interrupting my chain of thought. The main one is Johnny Cash's cover of I'm Free From the Chain Gang Now: "For years I was known by a number / That I kept my mind is a wonder…" My brain is overcompensating horribly for the lack of melodic input. Too much music has broken my internal monologue. Now it sounds like a gaggle of deranged geese at a funfair.
Symptom: broken brain
11am: At work, the sound of Badly Drawn Boy's The Shining drifts over from someone's computer, and my hungry ears strain for it, before I realise that this is forbidden fruit. I close my mind.
3pm: There is a moment of broken computer-related stress when I instinctively reach for my iPod, as I would reach for a cigarette in an awkward moment in the pub, or as I would reach for my piece when some lowdown hater disrespects one of my homies. But it is not there.
5.10pm: I don't normally listen to music on the Underground – I drape my earphones over my right shoulder and around my neck, so they form a weird exterior vein that joins my upper body to my right hand trouser pocket. But without them I'm beginning to feel a new freedom.
Symptom: sense of freedom
Cause: lack of music
5.15pm: We stop at Baker Street and an unwashed man with his headphones turned up very loud gets on. His music clashes with the music coming from the headphones of the woman sitting behind me. I feel like a broken radio. I look out the window. A cartoon girl wearing headphones looks at me from a poster on the wall, a large smile on her face. The train starts moving. The next poster advertises a CD called Choral Classics. The next is for The Phantom of the Opera.
5.40pm: On the walk home, Boom by Akira the Don ft Bashy comes on in my head. "Everyday there's a riot up at E10," sings Bashy, over and over again. Then Mama Cass comes on: "You've got to… Play your own kind of music / Sing your own special song." I start thinking about the the great director Robert Altman, who has recently died. Echo and the Bunnymen's mid-90s comeback single Nothing Lasts Forever comes on in my head. I start thinking about Nashville, Altman's best film, which is, of course, focused around the country music scene.
5.45pm: I get home and resist the temptation to put on the hi-fi as I take my hat scarf coat off. I go to the toilet and resist the temptation to whistle while I'm pissing. I go into the kitchen and resist the temptation to put on the radio while I make tea. Then I resist the temptation to hum. Then I resist the temptation to put the television on, as most programmes will have soundtracks. I switch the computer on – does the Windows start up noise count as music? I put my hands over my ears. I resist the temptation to start up iTunes. The internet isn't working – NTL should've fixed it days ago. I can't phone them though, because they'll put me on hold, which will involve listening to music. I look at the West Wing DVDs lying on the floor and think of the theme tune. I look at my guitar, which I'm now not allowed to play.
Symptom: cabin fever
6.25pm: I eat a Twix. It is delicious. "Things will be back to normal soon," I think, eyeing the CD rack.
Diagnosis: Music is evil and must be stopped
Cure: Twix bars
Another day dissected