I need noise. White noise. Cafe noise. TV noise. I often joke that I could write at a Bon Jovi concert.
I wonder if that’s why my husband often complains that I don’t hear the lyrics the way he does. Because I experience sound differently. More in a kind of diffused osmosis than any kind of purposeful way.
(I know! Gasp! For a writer of words to admit that!)
But just like those singular, bittersweet, sigh-worthy moments in romantic movies that make your heart clutch, or beautiful phrases in books that put words together in such a unique and heartfelt way you literally swoon - for me, for a song to have a real impact, it’s more about a feeling. It can be a few shiny lyrics that make me sing or move or smile or cry. Or a clanging chord that makes my stomach sink. Enough that it was able to break through the constant chatter inside my head and make a mark.
And I use that in my writing all the time. For some books I’ve listened to the one song over and over to tap into the feeling it creates inside of me.
I wrote a musician hero once; the aptly titled Resisting the Musician :). A rocker type - bruised and battered emotionally - the hero could no longer pick up his instrument. I listened to a lot of Bruce that year. Some INXS. And even a little One Direction! I got what I needed where I needed to get it.
Here are a few of the songs that always take me somewhere other, elevating me to a higher plane when they dance into my day. Songs that take me to that wonderful magical place that makes it human to need art:
“Kissing a Fool” by George Michael – I have listened to that song a zillion times while writing heart-clenching scenes in my books. It takes me there so well.
“We Are Young” by Fun – dark subject matter within the confines of a raging anthem that makes me want to stage dive (even when I’m in the car)
“Viva la Vida” by Cold Play – this song feels like summer to me. Like the car windows are down, my feet are on the dashboard and we’re going…wherever we want to go.
“Bad Things” by Jace Everett. The theme music to True Blood. It’s dark, and sultry and red. Just so much red.
“Jolene” by Dolly Parton – oh the yearning and heartache of that song. It makes me tear up every time I hear those first plaintive notes.
Do you have any songs that always make you cry, or dance, or suffer, or think, or wind down the car window and sing at the top of your lungs?
I'm a big Adele fan, Ally. The first time I heard Hello, and many times after, I got goose bumps. The lyrics always getting me thinking about relationships and love.ReplyDelete
Adele is one of those artists who get you with the lyric and those soulful notes. Are you going to see her in concert next year?Delete
I'm with you Ally. I like sitting in cafes to write as silence is just not my thing!ReplyDelete
Songs. My all time favourite song is Earth, Wind and Fire's September. How can you not get up and dance to that! In fact, any disco will get me up and grooving like a lunatic!
Agreed. Best songs are those that get you dancing no matter what!Delete
Songs usually don't make me cry, but "That Way Again" by Lee Brice was a close call.ReplyDelete
I love a song that makes me cry. Usually its a right place, right time thing. Though if my kids are singing in choir I blub like crazy!Delete
I'm a must write in silence kinda gal. I've tried listening to music but i'm either writing or listening to the music - not both so its counterproductive.ReplyDelete
Maybe its because songs are't about the music for me, Ally. It's always about the lyric. The music is just noise, the lyric is the poetry. I cry in a LOT of songs. I couldn't even begin to name them all but country music songs do it a lot! I was on a plane once with my headphones on listening to one of their radio channels and whatever I was listening to caused me to tear up. A passing ait steward mouthed at me, "Movie?" I shook my head and mouthed back, "Song." I think that was a first for him - crazy woman crying over a song.....:-)
I think its a busy thing for me. I don't give music the time it deserves. It's necessary, always in the background - I can't drive without it! - informing my moods. But when I sit and listen, purposefully, I'm such an easy target!Delete
I don't need silence, Ally -- I can write perfectly happily to the sound of construction work, drilling, hammering...and even cement saws (do you know how loud those things are?). But I find it impossible to write when the radio is on or to songs with lyrics or when people are speaking. Any kind of dialogue external to me pulls me out of my story. Sa la vie.ReplyDelete
But I LOVE having a playlist for a book, or even just a song. And, like you, there are songs I play just for the feeling they create in me (even if the lyrics have nothing to do with said feeling). Icehouse's 'Great Southern Land' is one of those, and Don Henley's 'Boys of Summer'. And then there are the songs whose lyrics immediately make my reader brain twitch like Adele's 'Rolling in the Deep', Prince's 'Little Red Corvette', Carly Simons' 'Jesse'.
Fab post! :-)
Is it weird that "cement saw" actually gave me blissful goosebumps? Oh the words I could write with that kind of noise energising my mind!
And yes yes yes, the lyrics can be irrelevant to the story - if the feeling is right it works. LOVE Great Southern Land - you can feel that one right in your belly. Sweet Home Alabama is my Boys of summer - its so visceral. Talking Carly Simon 'Let the Rivers Run' makes me float off my chair. Fierce song that one. Makes for fierce writing.
Oh I do love music and so many songs bring back so many memories for me they can bring me to tears or make me smile and then there are the new songs that I will hear and the words are so moving they bring me to goose bumps ;0 and BTW I usually read with the radio on :)
Oooh, reading with the radio on. That's harcore! I didn't even think about it till you mentioned it, but reading is one thing I do in silence.Delete
"I Was Only 19" is the ultimate tear-jerker, I reckon, while my happy-smiley-happy-place songs include "Love Shack" and "Get Lucky". Could name a stack more if I started thinking but those are the ones that were right there in my mind, no thinking involved.ReplyDelete
Like Amy and Michelle, I can't write to songs. I listen to the lyrics, even when I'm ultra-familiar with them, and that sends me off to other places that aren't MY storyworld. Music, without lyrics, is another story. Can set the mood and get me into the right place for particular scenes.
I also can't write in public for the same reason. Cannot stop myself observing the world around, stickybeaking into conversations, imagining all kinds of what ifs...which is great fodder for future stories but not helpful to getting down words on the current story.
Love this post, Ally.
Thanks Bron! I LOVE hearing how others write, what processes they have in place to best get the words down. Fascinates me no end :).Delete
I once got a complete novel download into my head after I heard Phil Collins's You Have No Right. I don't listen to music when I write unless there are people around and I want to zone them out!
Thanks for a great post. 😀
Love that Melanie! Geoege Michael's 'Kissing a Fool' gave me a most beautiful scene - so real, more like a memory than an imagining, I could practically taste the scene as I wrote it. Aren't those moments just pure magic?Delete