Normally you see essential listening lists for music lovers but I wanted to call out some songs that I have found very conducive to good writing. Growing up, music was a big part of who I was and continue to be. Even before I started playing the guitar I had a love of music. I always found in music a means of escape from what was going on around me. Music sparked my imagination and brought me to unique places. It was those thoughts that led me to think about some of the songs that had inspired and nudged my imagination the most. So in no particular order here is my list of songs all writers should give a listen to.
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Harts Club Band (Album) by the Beatles
We should get this one out of the way right now. If you want music to take you someplace you’ve never been this is one album to do it. Listen to it in order and see how the story unfolds. The beauty of it is it is not necessarily the story anyone else may hear.
Aerial Boundaries by Michael Hedges
This acoustic stunner is the first track of his second release. It is all instrumental but the dynamics between loud and soft high pitched and deep bass create a great sense of movement and flow. The track balances the two perfectly and I know I often strive to balance the opposing elements in my works with the same care.
Meeting Across the River by Bruce Springsteen
This may be one of the lesser listened to tracks on Born to Run but after just one listen I was hooked. I could instantly picture this person. Think about that the next time you struggle with a character that doesn’t seem to come alive.
It’s Because of Me by Robert Cray
Blues is music that tells a story. The greatest blues songs took that to heart. This song tells the story of love gone bad and what it is like being the awkward third leg of a love triangle that has flown apart. Love and anxiety collide in this one.
Bat Out of Hell by Meatloaf
My favorite tune off Meatloaf’s breakout album. This is a story of breaking out and breaking through. Just when the hero seems broken and down for the count he climbs back up and makes that one last drive for freedom, redemption, rebirth, all of the above.
Harvest (Album) by Neil Young
What I love about this album is the way it tells the story of a man coming to acceptance of his age. Time can be a lot of things but one thing it rarely is is kind. Harvest puts to music the realization that one must age and accept what comes of it.
Jungleland by Bruce Springsteen
Okay so we have another track off Born to Run. For me this song symbolizes the change in Rock music’s audience. Where Rock-n-Roll was once the music of teenagers, whose biggest worry was the school prom, as the decades slipped by that audience grew older with the music. In the sixties the audience was in college expanding their minds and fighting for new territory. Now the year is 1975, the rock and roller is out in the world trying to get by with a job, responsibilities but still longing for the fun of a Saturday night.
Tommy (Album) by The Who
Without a doubt Pete Townsend was a huge influence on me as a guitar player and a writer. His first full length rock opera has it all, character, conflict, resolution and revolution. How could you go wrong with characters like Uncle Ernie, The Acid Queen, Pinball wizard and cousin Kevin? Topping it all is Tommy, the deaf, dumb and blind boy who experiences mental, physical and sexual abuse and comes to a spiritual awakening only to face the ultimate rejection.
So there you have it. I am sure I am missing a few songs. As I said these aren’t just a list of favorites of mine but songs that I think could serve as a springboard for thoughts and ideas. I know my writing has been infused by them and will continue to be. Give them a listen and listen to some of your favorite songs and see what elements you can pull from them to improve your writing.