Music That Brings a Book to Life

Do you write to music? Do you have a soundtrack for your novel?

I do.

Not a complete soundtrack for every scene, but there are songs that have inspired scenes in my book. Take, for example, David Cook’s Come Back To Me.

I was minding my own business one day when this song came on the radio. I listened, I liked it, then BAM! An entire scene unfolded in my mind. Every little nuance, every word, the location, the emotions, all there.

Too bad I was driving my car and not near a laptop.

As soon as I could I wrote down as much as I remembered. Little did I know every time I hear the song now I imagine that whole scene exactly as I did the first time. Even now, after the scene’s been written and revised several times. It’s all there.

Has this ever happened to you? Maybe not in writing, but in life?

There are songs I hear from the 80’s that immediately take me back to whatever I was doing at the time the song touched me. Tears For Fears is a big one. Best breakup album ever.

I used to only listen to soundtracks when I write. Lately though, I’ve been adding more and more songs with words. Evanescence is amazing writing music. Same with Norah Jones. Great mood music. There are a few odd birds tossed in the mix as well. Gotye’s Somebody that I used to know and Kelly Clarkson pop up every now and then.

I’m thinking I need to add some Depeche Mode and maybe a bit of the Cure. Give that 80’s mope music a little love.

Share with us! What do you like to listen to while you’re doing what it is you do? Be it writing, cleaning, studying, riding a bike. What’s on your playlist?

If you missed it, last week I had a Slacker Monday with Gotye on the blog. Click the link to see their video ~ and scroll though the comments for links to an awesome cover by Walk Off The Earth.

I’d like to leave you with David Cook’s Come Back To Me. I get chills every time I hear this. The scene it inspired? Heart wrenching. My two main characters are ripped apart by someone else’s betrayal. You hope they can overcome it, but it’s going to be tough.

Enjoy and Happy Monday!


40 thoughts on “Music That Brings a Book to Life

  1. I have had experiences like that. I always have my phone in the car and often pull over and type frantically in it because a scene comes to me because of a song. I think people would be shocked to know how much of my books get written on my phone! Between songs in the car to dreams.

  2. I need something upbeat for washing dishes–usually the pop station on the radio. Most of my story playlists are a mix with songs by artists like Mat Kearney, Sia and even Aerosmith. 🙂

    • Aerosmith? That’s kind of cool. I’ve never heard of Mat or Sia, I’m going to check them out.

      Housework definitely needs upbeat music. My husband is a programmer and listens to techno (so does my son, now that I think about it. Hmmm…). It’s got a great beat, but I need words. Like 80’s music. Get some ‘Safety Dance’ going and those dishes are done in a snap!

      Thanks for the new ideas.

  3. Great post, Tameri! I find that after a long work day, nothing makes the winding down/switching gears more pleasurable than music. My Adele Pandora station does the trick every time. 🙂 When I’m in a peppier or must-clean-quickly mood (LOL), I pop in pop oldies, the Indigo Girls, Dar Williams, Shawn Colvin or the Beatles.

  4. I had two favorite cd’s i always listened to when I first started writing. but now I write in the living room, on my laptop…no music nearby. I’m thinking I should do something about that.

    • You need a little boom box or an iHome thing where you can play your iPod (if you have one, if not, see the boom box suggestion). Then again, sometimes quiet is really nice, too.

  5. I keep a small journal specifically for my story with me at all times. Like you, I can’t go into detailed writing on my phone. Although, I do have a notebook list for bullet items on there for quick ideas when they pop up. The trick is to remember to check back and grab them later. 😉 To answer your question, yes. I have a song or more that have done that to me. Every time I hear them the scene plays out exactly the way I saw it in my head the first time. Funny how that works. And I was so worried I’d lose it all.

    • I do that too, Debra! Except, I keep forgetting my notepad on my desk so then I buy a new one and now I have about 47. I need to do what Jillian does and put the notes on my iPhone. Technology rocks.

  6. Only occasionally, do I out on music with the intent of augmenting my senses for writing. When I did, it was Mahogany Nights by Al Gromer Khan, which just sounded like an Arab desert. While writing some of my more destructive chapters (it’s an apocalypitic thriller), I listened to a stream off iTunes called “Doomed”. I don’t recommend it to *nice* writers.

    • Ooooh, I have to check out Al Gromer Khan. That sounds like just the music I like. Hmmm, now I’m super curious about ‘Doomed’. I’m kind of a nice writer, but then again, I love me some hard core punk, so maybe I’ll like it.

  7. On the other hand, I *DID* mix up several samples into a ‘soundtrack for the trailer’, which included U2 (End of the World), Boston (Third Stage), and Holst (Jupiter). It gets my blood seething just to hear it. When I don’t feel like writing, I play that… my fingers catch fire.

  8. Listening to Bruce Springsteen always inspires me to write.I love Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know”too; best song so far this year. Soundtracks are always inspirational. The Last of the Mohicans has some fantastic music, particularly “Promontory”.

    • Ah, I love soundtrack suggestions. Will definitely check out the Last of the Mohicans. Bruce, huh? I like him for dancing and cleaning. Haven’t really thought of him for writing, but what the heck! If I’ve got Kelly Clarkson, the Boss will fit right in as well. Thanks for the tip!

    • Ah, Peter. Sweet, sweet Peter. I’d forgotten about him and I have loads of his stuff on iTunes. When His Circle and Hers Met is one of my all time faves. Jesus and Mary Train remind me of Peter for some reason. Which, is another great band to add to the playlist. Oh, and of course Lloyd Cole. Wow, so many new additions. I’m loving this! I should’ve done this post ages ago. 😉 Thanks for the reminder about Peter.

  9. I have a hard time writing to music because I become too focused in the music to write. Oddly enough (and you know this about me), I like to have an old black-and-white movie playing in the background while I work. Especially a cops-and-robbers movie. Listened to one today where one guy kept calling another bad guy a “patootie,” which made me laugh because my mom used to call people she was mad at “horse’s patooties.”

    There’s something about the quietness of them and the quality of the dialogue that puts me in the right frame of mind for bumping people off.

    • I know! That’s what I’ve always found so fascinating about you, Gayle. You can actually write with a movie playing. Love that you enjoy bumping people off when you have quiet dialogue going on. You’re so cool.

      Hmm, I think I’d rather be a cutie patootie than a horse’s patootie. Jus sayin.

  10. Tameri, I can’t believe I complete forgot about this. I had an aha moment after reading this. I created a play list for my current WIP and it made me look at the story in a whole new way. My everyday life is full of music, thanks for reminding me to put it in my writing.

    • YAY! I love aha moments. What do you have on your WIP playlist? I’m always so curious about what people write to.

      And hey, thanks so much for all the great tweet support. I need to check out your blog and start spreading the love for you!

    • I’ve just added The Cure to my writing music, Evanescence was (of course!) already there. A friend also suggested Dead Can Dance (a band from the 80’s). They are very atmospheric.

  11. Typically, I listen to neo-classical when I’m writing (mostly soundtracks) to help. If I’m trying to work in the chaos (like yesterday, 3 kids home for a school holiday) I put on some pop really loud as white noise. Gotye was covered by Walk Off The Earth – that’s who gets played on the radio here.

    • I’m really loving the WOTE cover of Gotye’s song. I wonder how they feel about it? 😉 I’ve added more songs to my writing music and I’m finding some of them really pull me out of the story, so those have to go. Mostly all the pop songs I added, so good for you that you can write with pop music playing!

  12. “Kingdom of Heaven” is an awesome score.

    I usually can’t write to music that has lyrics in a language I understand, unless that song fits a very specific mood or scene. The ONE exception to that (thus far) is Abney Park. I wrote a steampunk novel for NaNo last year and it seemed like every song of theirs I listened to fit the story so well that I just chain-played their albums all month.

    Aside from that, I primarily listen to movie and video game scores. (The playlist for my current WIP has nearly 300 songs and is 17 hours long, according to iTunes.) The love I have for Hans Zimmer and Nobuo Uematsu knows no bounds.

    • Ooooh, foreign songs. I never thought about that. Well, now that I think about it, I have some Celtic songs. I’ve never heard of Abney Park, I’ll have to check them out. Video Game scores! I never would’ve thought of that either. You are awesome, thanks!

  13. I listen to all kinds of music when I write, and I definitely have key songs that go with whatever the current project is I’m working on. For me, it tends to be the emotion behind the song that I cling to, and if possible, I’ll play that song over and over again until the scene is done. (It drives my husband bananas.)

  14. Love it, Tameri! Up to now I haven’t been able to write to music with lyrics, but now you have me thinking…I’m in the early stages of creating a series set in the 1970s and am imagining the songs i could use for inspiration! Thanks, sista!

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