One theme behind many of our cigar rants is how drastically set and setting can affect the smoking experience. It always rings true for me, the cigar is obviously the catalyst, but the state of mind achieved at the end of a satisfying smoke goes beyond just burning tobacco. As a fan of a wide variety of music myself, having the perfect soundtrack in the background can make a good cigar great for me. I see lots of parallels between musical enjoyment and cigar enjoyment, and they really can go hand-in-hand. The length of time it takes to smoke a decent Toro-sized cigar is quite comparable to the length of a typical LP, so you can enjoy the cigar as a whole, appreciating each aspect of it over time. Similarly you can listen to an album all the way through, appreciating it is one cohesive musical work rather than a song at a time.
Finding the perfect music to pair with your cigar isn’t a scientific formula, but if done well it can be a thoroughly enjoyable experience. My typical go-to soundtrack for cigar smoking is some good jazz. The improvisation of John Coltrane, Miles Davis, or Charlie Parker, their horn lines winding through the air like hazy clouds of smoke, just makes me forget about the rest of the world for a while and simply enjoy my cigar. However I certainly don’t limit myself, much like my taste in cigars, my taste in music is all over the map. I can find something to appreciate in just about any style of cigar, or music. If I’m having a Sunday late-morning mellow bodied smoke, putting on some mellow acoustic music like Johnny Cash or Martin Sexton can be the perfect accompaniment. Since I’m trying to relax when I smoke I typically don’t put on anything too heavy, but I’ve had people tell me of listening to Metallica or Iron Maiden while smoking and having a great time. I certainly wouldn’t tell someone to turn it down if that’s what was making them happy!
A warm summer evening, hanging out with a few close friends, a tasty cigar, a frosty cold beverage and some good tunes in the background to stimulate the conversation as well as the ears? It doesn’t get any better for me. If you’ve never made a conscious effort to do this before, give it some thought next time you’re ready to light up. Take an extra second to pick out the perfect album, sit back and listen. I think you’ll find some added enjoyment in both your cigar and the album. Like the Stones say, “let this music, relax your mind”. And after all, isn’t that the whole point of smoking cigars too?
If you want some suggestions, here are my top 10 cigar smoking albums in no particular order. I’m always ready for the next great smoking album, so feel free to comment with your favorites.
The Bad Plus – These Are The Vistas
Martin Sexton – In The Journey
Miles Davis – Dark Magus
Weather Report – Heavy Weather
Critters Buggin’ – Stampede
The Rolling Stones – Exile On Main Street
Ultralounge – The Leopard Skin Sampler
John Coltrane – A Love Supreme
Morphine – Cure For Pain
Brian Eno – Another Green World