Composer Mohammed Fairouz on How Obsession Fuels Creative Work

In his altogether spectacular On Being conversation with Krista Tippett, prodigy-composer Mohammed Fairouz — who has been described as a “post-millennial Schubert” and who sets to music beloved texts by literary icons like Oscar Wilde, Seamus Heaney, and W.B. Yeats — considers the role of obsession in creative work :

One has to be obsessed with text in order to take it seriously... Obsession is such a healthy thing. And for a composer, for an artist, for a human being, for a poet, for a diplomat, being obsessed with something is absolutely essential to getting what you want to get done done... Whenever I look back at innovative personalities, whether it’s Mozart or Steve Jobs or Shakespeare or Benazir Bhutto ... when you're reading about them, when you watch them speak, when you listen to their music, whatever, when you read their speeches, you always register a sort of obsession. There's something obsessive about what they're committed to... So being obsessed with text ... is about diving into the text, accepting the text, opening your emotional pores to the text, and not simply treating the text as a dead, intellectual document. You're also, in a way, accepting it as part of your life... It's imperative to be obsessed.

Fairouz's new record, Follow Poet, is nothing short of genius.

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