Friday, March 06, 2009

Friday Forays In Fiction: Music and the Muse

For the past several weeks I've been listening to a station on XM radio online called The Loft. It's been a long time since I've listened to radio of any kind on which more than two songs in a row grab me and make me listen and keep me yearning for more. I have always been drawn to songs that tell stories and of them the stories that have deep affective resonance. Stories of hardship faced with hope; of injustice met with defiance; of hypocrisy called on the carpet with courage; of betrayal answered by loyalty; of lives immersed in the mystery and wonder of living. The Loft has been giving me a heaping helping of such stories in every hour I've listened.

After I had been listening casually for a few days, I began to notice themes that echoed the themes in my WIP NaNo novel Mobile Hopes and decided to start recording the artist and song title for these in the Mobile Hopes WhizFolder file. Occasionally I would also jot some of the relevant lyrics with it. I was able to copy/paste the artist's name and song title off the XM radio page so at first it was barely interrupting what I had been working on while I listened to the music. But it wasn't long before I began finding relevance in so many songs it became impossible to listen to this station while doing anything else productive, especially when, as soon as I had dropped the copied artist/title info, I would start typing the lyrics as I listened. I would find myself racing back and forth between the XM web page and the Whiz note.

I just scrolled up and down the list tonight and discovered I've collected nearly two-hundred songs. Many of them contain urgent notes to myself to hunt for the lyrics online or to find a way to own that one. I'm finding this so stimulating to my imagination in fleshing out my own characters and feeling the depth of emotion that the situations I place them in ought to immerse them in but which I often find myself as the story teller staying too much in the abstract and thus keeping my characters there also.

I am even finding the info offered in the chatter of The Loft's disc jockeys helpful as I am fairly uninformed about so much of it. This is interesting on the personal level but it amounts to research in as much as several of the characters in my Mobile Hopes novel are immersed in music in some major way--either listening, playing, dancing to, or writing.

When I began contemplating what I had to report regarding progress on Mobile Hopes or any of my fiction projects for this week's Friday Foray's post, this engagement with music the past month is the only thing I could come up with. At first I brushed the thought away as not relevant enough but when I realized how much the engagement with the music was keeping me engaged with my story even though I haven't been making the time to write anything but my daily posts while I've been at my Mom's this winter I realized it was far from irrelevant.

Now I'm wishing I had the ability to pull up some of these songs at will to listen to repeatedly, to assign them to a character, to set the mood of a particular scene, to make part of the very settings of scenes by having a character listening to, playing, singing to, dancing to or thinking about. Oh so many ways owning some of these songs would aid in this and other of my fiction writing projects. Its been awhile since I was so revved up about collecting music. And its probably going to be awhile before I can do much about it other than check out YouTube for some of them.

I'm going to drop a longish section of that list of artist/song titles I've collected right here just to give an idea of the eclectic mix involved. I'm leaving in my notes to myself and my attempts to transcribe the lyrics on the fly which I can't guarantee I got right:

  • The Byrds - I Wanna Grow Up To Be A Politician
  • Billy Bragg & The Blokes - NPWA 'no power without accountability' 'i lost my car. I lost my house.' 'is anybody listening?'
  • Bruce Hornsby - Dreamland
  • Magnolia - Aimee Mann 'prepare a list for what you need before u sign the deed because its not going to stop, its not going to stop its not going to stop so just wise up'
  • Ani DiFranco - Knuckle Down
  • Luka Bloom - Holding Back The River
  • Colin Devlin - Light Years From The Sun - Democracy Of One
  • Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks - Dragonfly Pie 'i want to go home'
  • Tom Waits - November
  • Lucinda Williams - Cars Wheels on a Gravel Road
  • Elizabeth Cotten - Shake Sugaree 'o lordee me, shake sugararee. everything i gots been pawned'
  • David Byrne & Brian Eno - Home >>get lyrics
  • Counting Crows - album: August and Everything After. song: This Land is Your Land (Acoustic Demo)
  • Eagles - Business as Usual
  • The Hollies - 4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) Springsteen covers
  • annie lennox--walking on broken glass
  • Bon Jovi w/Jennifer Nettles - Who Says You Can't Go Home
  • U2 - In God's Country
  • Mike & The Mechanics - The Living Years
  • Laura Branigan - Gloria
  • Cher - Believe ('98)
  • Supertramps - Take the Long Way Home
  • Hall and Oates - You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling
  • Gloria Estefan - Rhythm Is Gonna Get You
  • Tears For Fears - Head Over Heels
  • Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan - Who Built The Road
  • Emiliana Torrini - Big Jumps >>sounds like eddie brickle
  • M. Ward w/Lucinda Williams - Oh Lonesome Me
  • Bob Dylan - Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again
  • Graham Parker - Don't Let It Break You Down
  • Bert Sommer - America They've all come to look for America
  • Backyard Tire Fire - Shoulda Shut It - The Places We Lived
  • Willy Mason - Oxygen re the dream of justice; hypocrisy; 'we can be richer than industry..we can speak louder than ignorance... GET LYRICS. must have this song someday!!!!
  • Starsailor - You Never Get What You Deserve
  • Maria Taylor - Time Lapse Lifeline 'oh the dreams of was just like that, it was just like that and just like that its image of a boy, a man...'
  • The Sacred Shakers - Gospel Plow

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