It's not that I forgot to write the blog, or decided not to write it. I was looking forward to it. I even started it a couple of times. I just couldn't ever get it to really gel, and then it gradually sank into the background as life got in the way, never forgotten, always lurking right there on the edge of my attention, until it was too late to write the thing for its intended venue (even if I could remember what that venue was).
This month, however, I am at a loss for a topic for my post, and so I come back to the blog I should have written years ago.
|Depends on how this post goes, really.|
It's not that I don't have a playlist. I love listening to music as I write. It's good ambient noise that helps drown out other more distracting environmental noises: cars outside, dogs barking, children playing, your spouse asking you to fix, clean, or reach something, the neighbors being hit by a train, things like that.
|"That's right, officer. He never heard the intruder. You see, he was writing."|
|"If you fall, I will catch you. I'll be waiting, Mr. Frodo."|
So, for example, when I am working on Guns of the Waste Land, I listen to a good deal of Ennio Morricone and classic country music such as Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Patsy Cline, and Willie Nelson. I also listen to a good deal of contemporary and goth folk music, especially Brandi Carlile and Nick Cave (Brandy's "Raise Hell" and Nick Cave's "John Finn's Wife" are two of the best songs for getting into the minds of hardened gunslingers).
For Blame It on the Mistletoe, my hard-boiled noir retelling of the Norse Ragnarok myths, I listen to a good deal of old swing/crooners like Sinatra, Bobby Darin, Tony Bennett, as well as new acts such as The Squirrel Nut Zippers and a local Atlanta band from the 1990's, Donkey. In addition to setting the tone for writing about down-on-their-luck gumshoes and and cocksure gangsters, I find the lyrics often help me develop a slang for the characters that is at once modern and evocative of the hardboiled vernacular of the 1920's/30's pulp fiction.
I am currently also co-writing a werewolf novel with Brad Strickland that is set in the rural Georgia of the 1890's and based on a couple of my family's legends (I am, in fact, a distant cousin of this woman). For this book I listen to a lot of Tom Waits, especially the albums Swordfishtrombone, Rain Dogs, and Frank's Wild Years. There is something about the carnivalesque nature of Waits in general and these albums in particular that make writing about a teen-aged girl who believes she is a werewolf seem perfectly and utterly reasonable.
This song, especially, may as well be the heroine's theme.
Tom Waits' blues and gospel influences also help set the mood for writing about the protagonist of the novel, Jeremiah Moses Freeman, a middle-aged ex-slave street preacher. In fact, his song "Way Down in the Hole" has become a metaphor for Jeremiah's whole character.
For me, then, playlists serve two primary purposes: the most obvious is to help drown out the mundane noises of everyday life that might pull me out of my made-up worlds, but even more importantly, the playlist, when done well, serves as a semi-conscious inspiration for the work in progress.
|Can I get an Amen?|