Inspiration, Music, Musings, Writing

Musing through music

The car we drove to and from the coast recently had no satellite radio, and I forgot to bring cd’s orBose Media Sysytem 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.

madmanWhen 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.

cougarWhen 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”

  1. Love this post, Linda, peaking at where you were when… Music is great that way (and sometimes stop-you-in-your-tracks powerful, depending on the moment remembered). Few things evoke such sudden clear memories, I think. With the possible exception of smells.

    Recently, in a store I smelled Flintstone vitamins, and it was like I was seven years old again. Made me want to see how fast my Keds could run!


    1. Yes, they say smells are the strongest evokers* of memory. My favorite, though it’s rare, is when I catch a certain scent at dawn that takes me back to my Grandparents’ Kentucky farm. Honeysuckle is another thing that takes me back to my childhood.

      Shoot, this could have been another blog post! 🙂

      *I apologize if evokers a not a word; I’m too tired to look it up.


  2. When I hear John Cougar I think of an outdoor concert at Laguna Beach when he opened for Heart. Ahh, memories.

    Sometimes I like to listen the old-oldies, like in the fifties. Sinatra, Dean Martin, and big band stuff. I wasn’t born yet in the fifties but because my parents listened to it when I was very young, it takes me back to a different time where things were slower, quieter, and safer. It takes me to the scent of rose perfume, flowered wallpaper, and bread-smelling kitchens.


    1. I saw Cougar three times back home and it was almost a mystical experience. I’d never been in a crowd so loud you couldn’t hear your own voice.

      Yeah, it’s the 40’s and 50’s music I remember hearing first, too. The beginnings of rock-n-roll was something, but my world changed when I heard my first Beatles song! I used to sleep with the radio on and I would wake up every time they played a Beatles song, then fall back to sleep when it was over. I have a photo on Facebook of me in my full-on British girl look from those days. There’s a story in there somewhere.


  3. The Beatles is my favorite for writing. May be is because I can remember so many seasons whit every songs. I also love classic like Bach, Chopin and Satie…

    Words come better with the help of a little friend.

    Thanks you for this post. It is very good.


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