Tuesday, November 13, 2012

On Attacking Baristas and Xylophones

I'm very protective of the music I use for writing. I search long and hard for the perfect collection of songs that can suffuse my brain with the tone I want to create in my novels. Every revision requires at least one new song to represent the shift, the new sense of climate I'm aiming to add to the story.

There's a small handful of people I'm willing to share my songs with. I can count them on one hand. It's not that I don't want to share my music, but I'm sort of afraid that if I give my story songs away, I'll dilute the power they hold over my subconscious. Somehow, I'm convinced that giving away the musical kernel of the novel is to give away the kernel of the story itself.

Irrational. I know. But it means that when I'm sitting in my coffeeshop, sipping my cappuccino on a Tuesday morning, and one of my hard-discovered songs comes over the speakers, I immediately leap to my feet and attack the mild-mannered, music-literate, cappuccino-making genius behind the counter with what I'm sure is a terrifying "WHY MY MUSIC, YOU THIEF????"

Don't fret. The encounter ended with mutual respect, one more cappuccino, and an exchange of music recommendations.

The point is, I'm as emotionally invested in my music as I am in my own novels. There's something really amazing about finding a song that perfectly captures a piece of my own imagination - the spark of a character, the first image of the story, the core of its emotion. It reminds me that I'm participating in a much larger tapestry of creative thought, adding to a conversation that's been going for hundreds of years in every medium storytellers can get their fingers on.

Which is my long-winded way of saying music is important to me, yo. (And I'm a little crazy about it).

As a way to further establish how crazy I am (and entertain you with my follies), I'll offer this final example.

About a week ago, M (one of the four people I share music with), sent me a song with the explanation, "you should listen to this because it's weird."

And it was. Weird. But oddly appealing. I filed the recommendation away for further thought and countered with a piece that was equally as odd, but far less appealing with attack xylophones. The point is we had a decent exchange about this piece of music.

Fast forward a week to two days ago when I encounter a song I think M will like. I send it and the following happens:

Me: Have you heard of this band? I like them so I think you will, too.
M: .....I have. Didn't I send you one of their weird songs last week?
Me: Um. You did? Did I like it?
M: You did. There's a problem with your brain.

I'm on the prowl again. Searching for the music that will pattern my brain for the foreseeable future. Send your recs if you've got 'em!


  1. I KNOW THIS FEELING. I'm also very protective and secretive over the music I listen to while writing. I feel naked and intellectually exposed when other people eventually tell me they're fans of the band/songs.

    I really thought I was the only one. I'm glad I'm not the only crazy out there about this. ;)

    1. In some strange way, I think the songs become wedding to the story idea so hearing it out in the wild is like seeing a piece of your own idea exposed. I know it's not logical, but it's still TRUE. ;)

  2. I know this is super late, but my friend sent me this playlist yesterday. It's music we listened to when we were supposed to be working, but instead had hijacked a conference room so we could listen to music without anyone else hearing us. I tend to go on Spotify, with which I have a very unhealthy relationship, and do artist radios. It's like Pandora, but better, because you can build a playlist after you've heard all the random new songs with songs you actually like.

    Operator Please - Logic
    Operator Please - Take It Back
    Operator Please - Ghost
    Operator Please - Just A Song About Ping Pong
    Operator Please - Leave It Alone
    Operator Please - Oh My
    Santogold - Disparate Youth
    Zox - Bridge Burning
    Zox - Line In The Sand
    Zox - Good Night

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