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Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Playlists of Our Lives

Although I’m not a big music lover, there are songs that transport me back to different times in my life, both good and bad. I’m sure this is true for most everyone.

Many authors listen to music to inspire them as they write. My muse needs silence. The only time I’ve needed music for inspiration was when I hit a roadblock as I was writing my Italy-set story, Murder, Mi Amore. I put in a CD of Italian opera music that my Australian cousin’s partner, an international tenor, burned for me. And that music did inspire me and help me over my block.

There are tunes I call “theme songs of my life.” Depending on your age, you’ll have certain songs that take you on a nostalgia-fueled journey. My favorite ones reflect my generation—the fights for women’s rights and civil rights. The anti-war marches, the riots that tore cities apart. And the sexual revolution.  

When I was in high school I dated a guy who had no desire to travel anywhere outside of the immediate area where we lived. I always wanted to travel. I haven’t done as much as I’d dreamed of, but I’ve done a fair amount. There was a song popular at the time called “You Belong to Me” by the Duprees. The first line was “See the Pyramids along the Nile.” Every time I heard it, I knew I’d be the one traveling and I figured my boyfriend would have to wait at home for me. Kind of selfish, huh? We broke up so it didn’t matter. Yet, the rare times I hear the song now, I think of that boyfriend.

I love classic rock and it’s mostly what I listen to, on the radio, and on my iPOD. The rock tunes from the late Sixties, early Seventies take me back to the best time of my life, when I met my husband and when the world was changing drastically. Not everything in that era was good. There was a lot of turmoil, but it was a heady time to be young.

Two songs that have permanent spots in the playlist of my life are from my personal “summer of love” in Margate, NJ. Whenever I hear “Light My Fire” and “Love Her Madly” by Jim Morrison and the Doers, I can’t help but smile with warm memories. That was a great summer for me.

And then there are Christmas carols. I love them. Some may find this music corny, but I sure don’t. Local radio stations begin playing Christmas songs in November, and that’s when I tune in. Listening to holiday music takes me to all the wonderful Christmases I’ve shared with friends and family.

There are many other songs that bring back important times in my life. Some I don’t remember until I hear them on my classic rock station. Then I take a short trip down memory lane.

I know authors who have used songs as inspiration for story plots. Boroughs Publishing Group recently held a novella contest where authors were asked to write stories based on song titles. I didn’t enter the contest, but coincidentally I’d written a short story called Love Potion, based on the rock ditty, “Love Potion Number Nine.” Boroughs bought my story, and it was released August 5, 2013.

What about you authors? Do you listen to music when you write? What music inspires you? For the readers—what music do you like? Does music transport you back to important times in your lives?


Liz said...

I love coming up with songs for my books and "hear" music constantly as I'm writing. thanks for this post!

Cara Marsi said...

Thanks, Liz. One of my critique partners hears music in her head when she writes. And she writes beautifully.

jean hart stewart said...

I'm one of those crazies who constantly has a song running in their head. I get stuck on one for a week or so, and then somehow it changes for another week. Heard once about a third of the people hear constant music like me, but don't know if that's true.

Cara Marsi said...

Thanks, Jean. How intriguing, that 1/3 of people hear constant music. I'll bet you get lots of inspiration for your books.

Paris said...

There was a time when I needed silence to write but now I find certain songs really inspire different moods and have been quite helpful in keeping my momentum, especially when writing action scenes.

vicki batman said...

Hi, sweetie! I usually play classical or Spanish guitar music. Sometimes, words mess with the words in my head. I, too, play lots and lots of holiday tunes at Christmas. But one song was sung to me--and I Love Her. Wow, that made my heart beat fast back then. ox

Cara Marsi said...

Thanks, Paris. I think it's cool when songs inspire your writing, but I still need silence to focus. Wish I could get more into music.

Thanks, Vicki, my friend. Classical or Spanish guitar music sounds very nice. No one's ever sung to me. How romantic.

Gemma Juliana said...

Hi Cara, this is a thought provoking blog post. I need silence usually when I write, with few exceptions. I love Christmas music, too. It puts me in a nostalgic mood and helps me get jump-started for the holidays. Often I'll get stuck on an old song I hear but it doesn't just play in my head - my poor husband and son get to hear it over and over until I tire of it, and there's no 'silence' button they can use to turn me off!

Melissa Keir said...

I need silence when I'm writing. The songs come about after the book is written. Then I hear a song and think that it's perfect for the character. It's ironic because music is so vital to me like breathing. I have to have it going at all times, even sing along to the shame of my family. As you said, those are the songs of my life.

Cara Marsi said...

Gemma, my husband gets tired of me listening to Christmas songs, but I love them and we only hear them at one time a year.

Melissa, it's wonderful that music is so important for you. When I'm home alone I put in the TV rather than music. I agree music is a very good thing and we all need it.

Sandy said...

Cara, you and I have a lot in common. First, I can't listen to music and write. Second, that time period was the best time of my life. Music does take me down memory lane, and I get so nostalgic listening to Christmas music because of our family get togethers.

Cara Marsi said...

Hi, Sandy, yes, we are very much alike. It's good to know I'm not alone. Wow, we who were there know how truly amazing that time period was.

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