Songs to Live By

We all have them: songs from real life, songs from films… They stay with us for a long time and often the significance of them doesn’t change. But, do you use them much for books, either in writing them or reading them?

I’ve noticed more and more writers revealing their ‘playlists’ from when they were writing certain books and although I use them a little, wasn’t sure it was worth bothering people with a snapshot into my cheesy music collection to show how the Greatest Hits of Haddaway has inspired my creative endeavours.

Not that it’s something I tend to dwell on, but I know quite a lot of people who have thought about what they might have played at their funeral. I’m sincerely hoping that my pal who wanted Chris Rea ‘Road to Hell’ was joking – I’m 99% sure they were.

Top Ten Funeral Songs

I’m sure most of you could guess that ‘My Way’ would be on the top ten list – although I wonder if that’s how people really think they’ve done it, or more that it presents what they would like people to take away about them…? Is it just a rumour that Frank Sinatra had ‘My Way’ played at his funeral? For him, it would make sense, just likeOver the Rainbow’ being sung at Judy Garland’s. In any case, I don’t see many people looking to have ‘Barbie Girl’ by Aqua as their swan song, no matter how much pink they’ve worn or plastic they’ve had put into themselves.

I have been to a funerals where Always Look on the Bright Side of Life and Don’t Worry, Be Happy, have been the last tunes played – it definitely worked for those lovely individuals and getting people to smile, at your funeral, is surely an achievement. 

There are some beautiful, moving songs that although I love them, I probably would not want to have featured as ‘my last request’ (even if God is a DJ). So, although I’m not fully decided, I kind of lean towards the mellow, with a slightly upbeat message

I suppose it is a bit ‘My Way-ish’ when you look at the lyrics – but in my head it works.

Anyway – let’s move away from the depressing stuff! Book playlists – do they interest you? Do you do them for yourself, to inspire you to write, or even for books you’ve read? I occasionally take part in ‘Song on Sunday’ meme from Confessions of a Bookaholic blog and find that certain songs that are around at the time I’m reading remind me of characters or the book itself. You can take a look at some of my old ones and see if you agree.

For myself, I never used to make playlists, although I had certain music pieces that I would listen to and – a bit like a movie trailer – would see the whole book plot played out from start to end. The plot for Hope’s Daughter played out to this piece, The Final Fight, taken from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Radio Sunnydale album.

I’m sure you can guess that the ‘movie trailer’ had lots of exciting chase sequences, falling off cliffs and stolen glances, in my head at least. After opening on the space station and external images of Earth, the images moved on, building through some nice boy-girl stuff with Cassie and Balik (for about the first minute). Then the secrets start to come out, questions linger until with a sudden change, you’re into the fast-paced cliff-dropping, life-and-death, chase/fight stuff. If I was a real director, and didn’t have to rely on making book trailers with stock footage, this is what Hope’s Daughter would actually look like on You Tube. *wishful sigh* I don’t see me getting props, budget, actors and costumes for that do you? Unless I raid some kind of sci-fi convention, and I’m not they’d be up for it, if it wasn’t canon. Oh well – at least the music helped me write the book and visualise the overall plot.

Have things changed? They have a little, I suppose. I find that I do now consciously build more of a playlist when I’m in the early planning stages of the books – either to get my head into a world of images and emotions generated by the songs, or the characters, if the songs remind me of them and their experiences. I can then dip back into them – not necessarily as I’m writing, but when I get stuck – to remind myself of where we’re supposed to be going. I’m easily distracted, what can I say? Ooh look – a puppy!

In the future I might post the playlists on here to go with the books as they come out – it will be interesting to see whether people agree with me, or simply question my terrible, albeit random, music choices 🙂

1 thought on “Songs to Live By

  1. TonyT

    My music choices I tend to pick for their familiarity rather than anything I’m writing for. For me, they’re just a wayof blocking out the world a little more. I have started writing everytime with “On days like these” by Matt Munro – it’s the music that plays at the start of the original Italian Job. I have no idea why; just gets my head into writing.


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