The car we drove to and from the coast recently had no satellite radio, and I forgot to bring cd’s or my mp3 player. So, we were stuck with plain old radio. The strongest signal came from our local classic rock station. It came in clearly most of the way, though at one point, we heard a fade in/fade out duo, which made it seem Pat Benatar had joined a mariachi band. You’re a heartbreaker ai yi yi yi ya!
Listening to these oldies revealed that, for me, certain songs evoke clear-cut memories. These may or may not be associated with the first time I heard the song, or even when it was in the Top 40, but the songs have become permanently attached to specific moments in my life.
When I hear Elton John sing “Tiny Dancer” I am lying, exhausted, on my sofa during the first few quiet minutes of the afternoon. My two little ones, plus the three I babysit, have just been put down for their naps, and I’m praying, “Let me make it through this one song before one or more of them pops back up again … and please don’t let them wake the baby.”
When I hear The Doobie Brothers’ slide into “Black Water” it’s a steamy Indiana summer afternoon and I’m driving our dark blue Chevy Impala with the glasspack muffler. With the radio cranked high, my foot heavy on the gas, loose tendrils of hair dancing in the wind, I pretend not to notice the cool guys in the next lane trying to get my attention.
When I hear John Mellencamp—who will always be John Cougar Mellencamp to me—break into “Hurts So Good” I stand thrilled, frightened, awed, and deafened by the roar in the Indianapolis arena as the “hometown” crowd celebrates the success of one of their own.
I could share with you dozens of these evocations, but these suffice to illustrate how opening these crystal-clear sensory time capsules is a way I can enhance my writing. They are inspiration, and research, in its most intuitive form.
Let the music play … let the writing begin.
19 thoughts on “Musing through music”
I know exactly what you mean, it’s really quite amazing. Music is a time machine to take you back to that moment & place, all your senses in tact.
And I love John Cougar ….
Applicable to your current blog post, I’m wondering if some of these moments could be successfully captured in flash fiction.
Oh yes! I’m not a big music fan but even my past is littered with music tracks that set off strong and evocative memories…wouldn’t have it any other way!
It’s sort of a mini-getaway, isn’t it? Like Cathryn said, ‘a time machine’.
I caught the humor, this time. Cute.
But the Benatar/Mariachi thing really happened.
Music is a great trigger. I still haven’t tried writing with it playing though. Don’t think it would do it for me – I go too deep into the story for music to reach me.
Looks like you had a great time, Linda! Glad to hear that!
No, I could never write while listening to music. At least not to songs with lyrics; it’s too distracting.
Just so you know, after reading you post I spent the evening yesterday singing “Come on baby, make it hurt so good. Sometimes love don’t feel like it should. You make it hurt so good”
And, i got my husband singing it too!
And yes, he still is John Cougar , always will be to me…
🙂 🙂 🙂 I’ve had “Jack and Diane” running through my head. Feeling very Hoosier today. And then Cynthia tweeted a link to Kurt Vonnegut’s 7 Steps On Style, where he says: “I trust my own writing most when I sound like a person from Indianapolis.” which I am, not that I equate my writing with his, but it reminded me to let my voice be my own.
Great article, by the way, so here’s a link: http://tiny.cc/T9ay0
Oh I LOVE to write with music in the background.
I’ve been listening to Don Henley sing “The heart of the matter” a lot this week…..
Saw John Cougar when he was JC and stood about three feet from him at one point. The man radiates star power. He’s so warm and connected to himself and his audience.
:0) (loved this post)
I had my years of constant music; now I prefer silence. Though I read on someone’s blog today, the idea of writing to the sound of a thunderstorm and I think I’ll try that. Those are one of the things I miss most from my Indiana life.