Music and the Writer: My Playlist
Music is my religion. – Jimi Hendrix
(Purple Haze – Jimi Hendrix – )
I derive much of my motivation to write from music. Many authors do. Stephen King talks of listening to hard -classic- rock (AC/DC, among others) while writing. I imagine plenty of authors, those established and starving, do. I just don’t have intimate knowledge of their musical playlists.
When it comes to my writing playlist, however, certain songs or musical styles help me to unleash emotionally into my work.
In my general every-day writing, or the beginning of nearly every writing session, I listen to this song first.
Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums
- A Perfect Circle -
I can’t begin to describe why this song reaches into me and unlocks my Muse. Perhaps it’s the beat, the lyrics, the overall package…. I couldn’t tell you. Music, while one of my many loves and in many ways my own religion, it’s not exactly my most knowledgeable area, either. (As in, I understand the terms, couldn’t begin to demonstrate them though. I know a quarter note is a quarter of a full note, but could I play it for you? Heck no!)
Either way, this song is how I begin every writing session. I don’t generally listen to this song much in my non-writing activities, but should it cross the path of washing-dishes/exercising/waiting-in-the-ONLY-checkout-line-at-Walmart-after-midnight/folding-laundry/etc., I am instantly hit with the need to write. Much like when a smoker passes another smoker lighting up, or watches it happen on television and they are hit with the full-force desire to light a cigarette RIGHT NOW!
This song brings out my Muse. It is her Siren call.
When I’m writing a scene that’s particularly sad, say a scene about grief, loneliness, crushing depression, or whatever reason you can think of to be sad about, I usually turn to blues (what little I have on my mp3 player. I need to get more.)
One of my favorites is taken from the movie, Black Snake Moan. (With Samuel L. Jackson and Christina Ricci. It came out in 2007, if I remember right.)
The Losing Kind
- John Doe -
Yet again, I couldn’t explain why this song in particular reaches out to me for scenes like this, but it does. If I had a better collection of blues, I’d probably offer up a different song, but alas, I have not entirely wetted my appetite for the blues yet and as such, don’t have much knowledge of that musical genre yet.
This next video is one of my favorite songs to listen to period, but most especially when I am writing a scene or story that is to me surreal, a dream scene or something rather weird/unexplainable.
- Jeff Buckley -
I think part of why I love this song is just the strangeness of it. (Again, I am familiar with only a few musical terms. Here, in this arena, I lack all my usual nuances and charm.) I particularly love what sounds to me like a weed whacker. (I know that’s actually the guitar–at least, I think so–but it still sounds like a weed whacker to me. And I love it.)
Ultimately, this song is perfect for scenes about surreality, things that may or may not be real. The artist suffered from schizophrenia and wrote this song specifically about his delusions and hallucinations. For me, this makes it a very personal and beautiful song about insanity. That automatically makes it a favorite.
Let’s talk about love, shall we?
When I’m writing about a good, positive emotion, I look for high spirited music to motivate me emotionally. (Captain Obvious for the Win!)
- Coldplay -
The one above is for love in general. For unrequited love, or “down” love, I prefer to listen to:
- Coldplay -
Coldplay, to me personally, is one of the best bands for “love/romantic” music. Again, I can’t really explain why I think this. I just find their music always revolves around a certain timbre, pitch, tone, octave, whatever, that seems to scream “LOVE” in a wonderful soprano. (Or, uh, whatever.)
I love talking about music, even if I don’t know any of the technical aspects of music. I tried to learn an instrument in 5th grade– the violin. I wouldn’t mind trying to learn again, but I’m just not patient enough to learn how to properly play a musical instrument.
Mostly, I love to discuss music because it’s one of few things that everyone has a true opinion on. One song will never sound exactly the same to another person as it does to me. How we perceive music, how we understand the emotional language of music, these are all reflections of who we are underneath the layers of civilization and society that we camouflage ourselves with.
Music reveals everyone for who they truly are.
Which is why music is such a powerful tool when it comes to writing believable, sympathetic and realistic characters. Music helps the writer to peel away the layers of civilization that would cover the character as they do ourselves, allowing us to reveal our characters as they really are, in much the same way music reveals us in our real lives.
I would include more from my playlist, but I think I’ve put enough up for now. The next blog will cover more music, which scenes I use certain songs to help write, etc.
RANDOM PARANOID FEAR OF THE DAY #172
One day while flying paper airplanes with my kids, one plane will fly right by my neck, in such a way that it slices my flesh open to the jugular, killing me by paper cut.