Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Music for Punchdrunk Writers

Yesterday, I wrote about the similarities between painting and writing. Today, I’m going to rap on music for a while.

Confession: I do not listen to music while I write. I, in fact, have no idea how people write and listen to music at the same time. I get sidetracked and find myself staring at the wall remembering seventh-grade dances and college and everything else music reminds me of.

My novel does have a playlist, but everyone’s novel has a playlist these days, so I’ve been keeping it quiet. I drive around listening to the mix CD I made and thinking about my main character. Yeah, I’m obsessed. So what? Let me tell you something about writing 60,000 words about a single topic: You have to be obsessed; otherwise, you’ll come to your senses and start craving sunshine.

One unique thing my book and I do have is a song. You know how couples have their song? Well, my book and I have our song. Written by Smokey Robinson and perfected by the Beatles, You Really Got A Hold On Me sums up our irrational, neurotic relationship.

Without further adieu, I offer an awesome ukulele-based cover of our song and some telling quotes if you’re not the clicking type. If you’re knee-deep in revisions, I’m sure you understand the sentiment:
I don't like you, but I love you,
seems like I'm always thinking of you.
Oh, oh, oh, you treat me badly.
I love you madly.
You really got a hold on me.

I don't want to leave you,
Don't want to stay here,
Don't want to spend another day here.
Oh, oh, oh, I wanna sit now.
I just can quit now.
You really got a hold on me.
Can you relate? Let me know what song you share with your book, or your car, or whichever non-human object you love to distraction.


  1. Love the lyrics!!
    I listen to music while I write because I need background noise and if I put the TV on I get sucked into the shows.
    I don't have a playlist for my book. I need to think about that and get one together.

  2. Ooooh so many songs exist between me and my book. I did a post on my hero song. But the Moody Blues have a song that capture the whole story line...
    "Once upon a time
    Once beneath the stars
    The universe was ours
    Love was all we knew
    And all I knew was you
    I wonder if you know
    I wonder if you think about it
    Once upon a time
    In your wildest dreams"

  3. Megan - See, I get sucked into the music just as much as the shows. Ideally, I'd have complete silence to write, but that rarely happens.

    Karen - I got chills when I read those lyrics. So which came first? Did those lyrics inspire the book? Or did you notice the significance of the lyrics after you started writing The Kindrily?

  4. Saucerful of Secrets by Pink Floyd. An instrumental with no lyrics. I find that most of the time that whatever song is matched with what I'm currently writing happens to be instrumentals. (I think Lisa Gerrard's voice counts as an instrumental, since often her music does not have any discernible lyrics.)

    Enjoyed the ukulele.

  5. After re-reading all of your comments, I realized that "whatever song is matched with what I'm currently writing" is sort of a chicken-or-egg situation.

    What I'm trying to say is that I hardly ever listen to music while writing, but many a time I've listened to a song that inspired me to write a story. And when I'm stuck, I go back and listen to the song again--100% closed-eye listening--as if it might offer me a clue as to what to do next. By the way, it does.

    And one more thing--Karen, you just wrote a post about your characters talking to you. Kurt mentioned Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions, where Vonnegut feels so bad about what he's done to his characters, he enters the story to try to talk to them.

    They think he's crazy and they run for their lives.

    That's totally how my characters would react too.