Writing Music

There have been a lot of blog posts from writerly types discussing the idea of putting playlists with their novels so that readers could listen to the music that inspired the author during the act of composition. Some authors have included a lists of songs and artists in their books. Some have put together lists on iTunes and linked the songs to their blogs. Others have proposed including a CD of the music to save the reader the trouble of looking for the individual songs, an idea that promises to provide a lot of headaches for publishers in the future as authors haggle for the rights to include the music.

A lot of these writers stick with a certain genre of music. For example, Stephen King has repeated expressed his love for hard rock and heavy metal accompaniment while he spins his tales of horror. Others tend to vary the music according to the mood of the scene they are writing. A love scene may require some Luther Vandross or Barry White while a fight scene may take the entire soundtrack to the movie 300. Regardless, every person’s choice of music says something very personal about that person, writer or otherwise. The music that inspires and entertains us opens a window to the public that allows them to see what we value and how we see the world when we look out that same open window.

I’m taking a moment as I near the halfway mark of my new novel and am looking at the music I have listened to while I’ve been writing. I have eclectic tastes and the only thing I can figure out from these choices is that I am very fucked up.

Here’s a mostly-complete playlist of the music I’ve listened to while working on Project Superhero:

Elton John–I’m not gay, but I still enjoy his music, even at 60+ years old. More than Sir Elton’s part, though, I love the stories that Bernie Taupin gives him to sing–all surreal, all fantastic, all perfect for his career musical collaborator

Bob Marley–Particularly of late, I’ve been down with reggae, an odd choice as the music is mostly upbeat and the scenes I’ve been writing over the past few weeks have really grabbed my character by the short hairs.

Stevie Wonder–Again, upbeat music for a mostly downtrodden story. I love Stevie, though, so he stays.

Various Jazz–Duke, Miles, Dizzy, Ella . . . yeah, dig it.

Spanish Guitar–Bought a 2-CD set of instrumental music last year and have damn near worn the thing out

Various classical–Mozart, Strauss, Rachmaninoff, and Vivaldi mostly. I have several others that I mix in, but those are the ones I keep going back to.

Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young–WTF? I don’t even like their music.

Various Christmas–This is more of a prep for a later project, but it still feels awkward jamming to Destiny’s Child singing “Opera of the Bells” while mowing the grass in 95 degree heat.

James Bond themes–Bought another instrumental CD and it’s gotten a lot of play.

Jabali Afrika–An African choral group that came to nearby Bethel College not too long ago. My wife bought a CD and I’ve stuck it onto my bedside table. Again, really too upbeat for what I’m writing, but great sound nonetheless.

27b-6–A college band consisting of members my wife knows from college. They play a funky sorta music that is really too good to be a college band, but they’ve all moved on to other projects. We saw them last year at a local event for a reunion of sorts, but I don’t know of any plans to do so on a permanent basis. I wish they would. My wife bought one of their cd’s nearly ten years ago and I’ve adopted it as one of my favorite sources of writing music.

Beatles–The number 1’s CD, especially “Paperback Writer”

Broadway Tunes–Particularly the score from Rent–the music is fantastic. I’m also big on Phantom, as we used nearly the whole score as our wedding music, and Cats.

George Michael–Faith. Forget the bathroom shit. I don’t care. The man can sing.

Various others–I even mix in a little current music (gasp!) like Brooks and Dunn, Rihanna, Big and Rich, Maroon 5, and several others from just about any station you want to find on the radio.

See? I told you.

Anyway, I’m always on the search for more music to add to my collection. Speaking of which, I just found this CD of German drinking and beer garden songs . . .

Hmmm . . . anyone up for a cold one?

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