Okay, so today I’m going to let my music whore out to play, because music is/has been/will always be an intrinsic part of writing for me. My stories are movies in my head and they don’t function right without a soundtrack, so I’m going to share my current top 10 favorite songs that help get my juices going, as well as some side commentary with my interpretations and ideas about them. Mkay? Mkay.
1. Gravity of Love by Enigma
I have loved this song since I was a kid, and it was one I put on repeat during my depression days because my brain needed to pick apart the lyrics for a meaning I could relate to at the time. To this day I will crank this baby up loud and chew over the line ‘the experience of survival holds the key to the gravity of love’.
From a writing point of view, this is a rich idea to explore. The bonds forged by some kind of shared survival and the gravity of what that can cost can fill a world’s worth of libraries with different stories. Love, after all, is not all happy sighs and dizzying heights, especially when shit is going down. Love of any kind pushes people into positions where choices must be made, boundaries crossed, limits pushed, and convictions tested.
2. Brother by Murder by Death
First off, can I just say that I love EVERYTHING this band puts out? ‘Cause I do. Man, the range on this band is just friggin’ awesome. Seriously, check out their stuff. I started off with their Red of Tooth and Claw album, which is KICKASS. This song always reminds me of Daryl and Merle from the Walking Dead, but besides that it’s a perfect example of a tough situation involving family, especially when the relationship is not ideal. The lines of what’s legally right and where the singer stands on family blur even though he doesn’t condone or approve of his brother’s choices.
3. To Kill a King by Hungry Lucy
The combination of sounds and the soft voice is cool and it’s awesome to see a progressive stance taken against an abusive/toxic relationship, and to think about what kind of aftershocks would follow this kind of action.
4. Hold On, Hold On by Neko Case
This song showcases the sourness that lingers after one too many brushes with failed relationships, both familial and romantic, and how the singer takes on a cynical view of the entire concept. I’m working on a character who has a similar viewpoint here and exploring the push-pull of want versus past experiences is messy and bittersweet to write.
5. My Boy Builds Coffins by Florence and the Machine
Florence is just awesome, okay? Always listen to Florence. This song will probably be on one of my current playlists until I finish writing my Undertaker story, for obvious reasons.
6. Light ‘Em Up by Fall Out Boy
This is my latest in a long line of Epic Battle Writing Songs. The moment when I turn this on my characters armor up in badassery, kick in doors, and set shit on fire. Morality lines get redrawn, vengeance is carried out, and I do a mean impression of a yodeling cat trying to sing the ‘I’M ON FIAAAAAAH’ parts. When I’m alone. In the car. Where there will never be any evidence.
7. Lockdown Town by Jeff Grace from the Stake Land Soundtrack
The beginning of this song is pure fucking magic. The entire soundtrack is awesome, and I highly recommend watching the movie, too. The drooling vamps are kind of gross, but it’s a well put together movie and story. I want to reach through the screen and rub my face all over the beautiful scenery. And the music. And some of the actors while we’re at it, ‘kay?
8. Mountain Sound by Of Monsters and Men
This is another band that I can’t get enough of. They have a way of putting together songs that fill me with laughter and tears all at the same time. This one brings to mind the image of sun-bleached Polaroids hidden away in an abandoned attic, the context of the stories and people in them lost in the mind of an Alzheimer’s patient no longer living in that house. IDK why.
9. Anthem of the Angels by Breaking Benjamin
My go-to band for hurt-y songs and agonizing emotions, this one will never not make me want to cry and smash something. I consider this song to be the other side of the coin to Death Cab for Cutie’s I Will Follow You Into The Dark. If my Zander Book were a movie I directed and produced, this song would start as the credits roll to make sure everyone gets one last kick in their feels.
10. Apparition No. 12 by Thea Gilmore
(Unfortunately I have not been able to find a Youtube video for this 😦 Sorry!)
The story and images rolling off this song are like chocolate covered bacon to my brain, I shit you not. Give it a whirl. I find something new in the lyrics to latch onto each time I give it a listen and it inspires a new scene or idea or scenario.
And those are ten awesome songs you should give a chance, see if they do anything for you. If so, use ‘em. If not, keep looking, because there are tons of songs out there that are just waiting to inspire a new character, a scene, an entire book series for you.