The TV or a movie playing the background can be a source of comfort, but for writing the best thing I can have is music. I can't say exactly what it is about music that changes things so much, but a good song can be magic for so many reasons. One with the right mood (even if the lyrics aren't related) can inspire whole scenes. The right lyrics can inspire a story. Either one can take me from a plodding, writers-blocked state of a handful of words an hour up to a whole chapter in the same length of time.
Is there a particular song that works every time? No, unfortunately not. I wish there was. I have playlists to get me into the frame of mind I need for each story for sure, and there are a number of songs that seem to be staples in every playlist I have. But I'd love nothing more than to be able to bottle the success of the right song for the right (write) moment. I guess you could say it's kismet ;)
My staples seem to be fairly eclectic and always include at least one song by each of the following:
Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
Dashboard Confessional (a new addition to my collection)
From there, it's usually a wide array of everything from country to soft rock, alternative to jazz. It's usually more about the mood than the lyrics, but sometimes both are equally important.
Do you like to listen to music while you write or read? If so, do you find your experience is enhanced by the right songs? Do you have any staples in your collection?