Background: I love Mat Kearney for one thing—he sounds like Adam Duritz, of the Counting Crows, my absolute favorite contemporary male artist. That sounds close-minded of me, but I love that voice, and I’ll take it even when it’s not really Adam’s. (He doesn’t sound 100% like Adam, but about 90%, close enough).
Favorite line: “I’m grabbing at the fray for something that won’t drown.” But really I love this whole song. Every single line. “Light’s just breaking so don’t let go of my arm.” “If all we’ve got is what no one can break/I know I love you, if that’s all we can take.”
My song history: I found this song at the perfect time, just as I was starting to really form Daughter in my mind. This song is inextricably connected to that story for me, and always will be.
What drew me in: Like I said, what originally drew me in was Kearney’s voice, but the minute the lyrics started to sink in, I couldn’t escape loving it.
For my writing: According to last.fm I’ve listened to this song 176 times, but that’s probably a fraction of the truth. If Ashes and Wine (my #1 on last.fm, with 198 plays) is my song for Amara, my heroin, “All I Need” is my song for Philo, the boy who loves her. This song is so Philo I couldn’t have found a better one if I’d tried. It talks about “trying to be the man” when they’re seen as just a boy, about running without knowing what you’re running for, just that she needs it, and being completely over their heads on a journey that’s much bigger than them.
I know you know the Rhianna/Eminem version… but have you heard the original? It’s gorgeous. And apparently about an abusive relationship with the music industry, which makes it much more interesting than the “I’m sticking around for because my man is mine” whatever story the more popular version tells.
Just think about that. Think about how packaging changes the way a story is told, especially with something as subjective to the reader/listener as a song is. Some may say that as a writer you have to make your “point” clear to your audience. Others would say just the opposite: you can’t make your version real for the audience, what matters is their account.
Me? I’m somewhere in the middle on this. I don’t think that I can write a story about one thing and have it secretly be about something else. Not intentionally, by any means. I don’t demand for readers to see the story exactly as I see it either, though. I want readers to get a chance to come to their own conclusions about certain characters, actions, etc.
Are you one of those people who thought they could never like anything zombie related whatsoever? I was like that. For the most part, I still am. Undead people all desiccated and walking? Not my thing. But I have to admit, this was the cutest zombie-related thing I have ever seen. I hope you like it.
P.S. I have to admit, I have gotten this song stuck in my head for days.
Favorite Line: “They’re so much stronger than the friends you try to keep/by your side.”
My song history: I found this when I was immersing myself in as much Regina Spektor as I could lay my ears on, and this is one that kept coming back to mind.
What drew me in: I love this idea that a day can work outside of you and against you. That some days “come and go like someone else’s days/They come and leave you behind someone else’s face/And it’s harsher than yours.” That last bit is SO key for me. Because you know it’s true… there are days when you say things and you react sharply to other people, and you know it’s not you, but you couldn’t stop yourself in the moment.
For my writing: This song is for my dear Savannah. She’s a character in Jethro that I know a lot of people won’t like. She’s gorgeous, untouchable, and she rules Jethro High with an iron will. But Savannah is also vulnerable. She’s been hiding behind the mask of perfection so long that when things start to get out of control she just about loses it, and she tries her best to make enemies of the very people that should have her back—she just can’t feel comfortable with the fact that they also know all her secrets.
Background: You probably heard this song back eight years ago (was it really eight years ago?!) on commercials for the movie Garden State, but if you haven’t heard Imogen Heap play “Let Go” solo on the piano… well then, you really haven’t heard the song.
My song history: I first heard this song (or a piano solo version, rather) a couple of years ago, late, late at night on an Arizona radio station after a long day of driving. I was in the car with my dad and we were driving to Texas, so we had an even longer way to go. It was past midnight, probably closer to one, and somehow in the drivel of radio music, this gorgeous, ephemeral version of an old favorite. I had found the Frou Frou version about a year before Garden State‘s soundtrack made Imogen Heap a household name to any one remotely plugged into the music scene (which I’m not really remotely, anymore… but you know, you have to be in college, in order to survive). We found rest at a cheap hotel just moments after the last notes of the song ended on the radio… but my goodness did I want more. Of course we’d stopped at a hotel that had no wifi whatsoever, so it was weeks before I could even look it up on the internet and indulge in it a little more.
What drew me in: Well, really the slightest hint of Imogen Heap being involved in anything perks my ears up. (I have to admit, part of the reason I finally consented to watch the Shrek movies was because I knew her cover of “I Need a Hero” was for the credits of the second one). But I especially love recordings of her live stuff. She’s a musical genius, flat out. I’ve never been disappointed with a single thing I’ve heard by her. This has been true as long as I’ve known of her… which as I hinted, dates back to when I was a junior in high school.
For my writing: I turn to Imogen when I don’t know who else to turn to. Her music is always by turns soothing, exciting, challenging, and utterly confounding—especially when it comes to the things she can do with a mixer machine. If I want emotion to burn or linger or chime in just the right way, Imogen Heap is often slipping through my headphones, and this song is one of my absolute favorites.
My Song History: This is a song about giving up on a relationship, or rather, being right at the point where you realize that things aren’t going to work, so giving up might be the best option.
According to my last.fm, this is the most commonly played song on my laptop. I’m not too surprised. I use this for writing on repeat constantly. Somehow it always puts me in the mood for writing Daughter, even though the lyrics and the story of the song are nothing like the story it inspires me for. I just love A Fine Frenzy, from the first time I heard “Almost Lover,” and something about the music and the ups and downs of Alison Sudol’s voice inspires me and makes me want to write.
Favorite Line: “Is there a chance/a fragment of light/at the end of the tunnel/a reason to fight?”
(I also LOVE “All the same/I don’t want mudslinging games”)
What Drew Me In: Quite honestly, the title. Such a delicious promise of wreckage. Something beautiful that’s turned into something desolate. And desolation is a feeling music does help me with…
For my Writing: As I said, this song is an inspiration for my WP, Daughter of the Falling Leaves. Surprisingly this was actually the key to unlocking a big conflict/fight scene in the story for me. Since then it’s become a general inspiration for the overall story. Even though the song is about a relationship ending, its general feeling of melancholy and wanting desperately to fight for something that you may not be able to win is perfect for this story. Because maybe it’s worth it, even if you can’t win.
to Laura Bastian for winning the 25 page edit & critique! 🙂
And thanks all for playing!
And now for a song my little bro introduced me to recently… Quietdrive’s cover of the classic, “Time After Time.”
This is a yummy cover. I don’t know if it’s my favorite of the song, but it’s got a completely different feel than the other covers I love (Cindy Lauper’s featuring Sarah MacLachlan, and Matchbox 20’s.) I have a feeling I’ll be checking Quietdrive out a bit the next few days.
Got any good cover recommendations? Or new music in general? I’d love to try something new!
Background: This song is all about being crushed under the weight of secrets you can’t share. It’s about deciding whether or not to put your trust in people, and knowing for some things that it’s not the best idea. Would you have the strength to keep a dangerous secret if letting it out would put people in danger, or would you find someone you can lean on to take the pressure off of you alone? What’s the trade-off? Is it worth it?
My song history: I first heard this song on the killer episode “The End of the World” from the 1999 TV show, Roswell. In case you don’t remember it, it’s about four teenagers who are actually aliens from the 1947 Roswell crash. If you’ve never seen it and you love YA paranormal (okay, technically it’s sci-fi, but it’s special-powers sci-fi, not that kind of sci-fi) then I encourage you to give it a watch… it was way before its time. Anyhow, this song was featured in one of the most heart-wrenching episodes, and I’ve loved it ever since.
What drew me in: Really it was the utter perfection of how it fit into the Roswell episode. That show had a savant for music—one that was sadly butchured when the show went to DVD and 95% of the music was replaced. I loved the theme of the song, too, though. The narrator’s secrets have piled up so much that she is the “only one” who can save herself. It’s that forced independence that really rings true in the song, and a theme that is so very important in YA fiction—and life, too.
For my writing: This is the song I turn to for secrets. The whole song shouts about secrets that can’t be told—which is just what a secret feels like sometimes when you’re dying to share it… like it’s the loudest thing in your head. I haven’t used this song a whole lot in my own writing yet, but I’m building up towards something that can justify its implied importance. I love the character in the song—someone who is all alone in a fight, basically—and my stories—Jethro in particular—will definitely be taking me to places like that in the future.