Music Inspiring Writing: Emerian’s Thoughts
by Emerian Rich
Welcome to my new blog series all about how ♫ Music Inspires Writing. ♫
Music has always had a special place in my heart. I grew up with the intent to become a singing star and gobbled up everything and anything musical. After my singing career proved to be unproductive (crippling stage fright I could not get over), I fell into a rut. My dream was dead and so, where to go from there? Funny how when you’re younger, it’s all or nothing, right? Why did I suddenly feel like I couldn’t like music when I would no longer be producing it?
Anyway, I fell back to my other talent, writing. As it turned out, it’s a talent that comes much more naturally. But something I didn’t realize at first is, I like music because it also tells a story, only it tells it through voices and instruments instead of pages. Looking back, I have always mixed music and writing together. When I was a pre-teen, MTV just popped on the scene and I fell in love with art of the music video. I began writing storyboards for my favorite songs and even directed one with a b/w video camera for Jr. High Music Appreciation class. I was also writing my own stories and loved to use lyrics to intro each scene. Yes, all my characters had soundtracks.
When I write, I always listen to music and the types and genres vary widely. Here are my six categories that inspire me to create.
1.) GREAT STORYTELLERS:
If you’re in the US you’ll laugh (other countries not so much), but my favorite band of all time is A-ha. Beyond “Take on Me,” their music always tends to launch my imagination into overdrive. Most of their songs are written by band member Paul Waaktaar-Savoy, a great song writer that I’ve admired since their first album, Hunting High and Low. When I was a pre-teen, I might call his style “deep” now I just call it brilliant.
Lyrics from songs like “Train of Thought”
“At home a house awaits him, He unlocks the door, thinking once there was a sea here…”
and “Early Morning”
“I climbed all the stairways to find the rooftop clear, got the shotgun lying with me here…”
or “Scoundrel Days”
“Was that somebody screaming? It wasn’t me for sure. I lift my head up from uneasy pillows, put my feet on the floor. Cut my wrist on a bad thought, and head for the door.”
…bring the story to you and being a horror writer, I adore the macabre symbolism in “I Dream Myself Alive,” “I’ve Been Losing You,” and “Sycamore Leaves.” I could write a book on how much his work and collectively the whole band has affected and enriched my life.
Another great storyteller is Sam Philips with songs like “Reflecting Light,” “Now I Can’t Find the Door,” and “Holding on to the Earth.”
Ever met one of those people who inspire you to create just by existing? They have that fashion sense or the je ne sais quoi that makes you want to make cool crafts, doctor your old car, become a travelling bead salesman.
Well maybe not the last one. For me it started with Courtney Love. Before the nose job and drama, when she dressed in baby doll dresses and sang moody angry songs. Or Kerli who creates her own style of bubblegum goth that blows my mind and is equally talented with fashion made from hardware store finds, spray paint, and hot glue. Most recently, Emilie Autumn, the mesmerizing songstress and violinist who brings a whole new meaning to mash-up with her Victorian-Punk-Loli style and brash awesome lyrics that speak to my soul, making it to soar free in the fairyland her songs create.
Perhaps my favorite genre, its timeless sound gripped me in high school with the smooth tunes and soulful crooners. My love for it hasn’t faded. If anything, it’s taken root in my soul and will never let go. Starting with my favorites, Louis and Ella, I couldn’t get enough. Moving on to Sinatra, Eartha, Dean and then the more modern Harry Connick Jr. and Michael Buble. I feel like these songs are the world I live in and the musicians part of my family. Even my husband (hardcore metal head) has taken to speaking of them on first name basis in our home.
4.) THE SCREAMERS:
My husband says he can always tell when I’ve been listening to Rage Against the Machine, because I cuss more. Well, sometimes you just need to yell and scream and get “Down with the Sickness.” Beyond being an incredible stress reliever, listening to metal, grunge, and alternative rock can allow you to vent your frustrations without committing homicide. The Screamers are also perfect for vampire fight scenes. I have firsthand experience with this. My favs? Rage Against the Machine, Disturbed, Tool, Nine Inch Nails, Linkin Park…the list goes on. Anything that metals, rocks, and screams is a foolproof prescription for a blocked vampire fight scene. “Blood in my Eyes” as performed by Disturbed, Godsmack, and Limp Biskit is not to be missed.
Darkwave is notorious for bringing the gloom into anything. I’m talking before someone made up the term EMO. No, think back to when Goth meant something deeper than silly vampire wanna-bes and SNL spoofs. When Robert Smith was king and the dark melancholy feeling was still romantic and not suicidal. Are you there yet? No? Then break out The Cure, Nosferatu, Metophisto Walz, The Damned, Mazzy Star, and Switchblade Symphony. Other bands like early Counting Crows (“Perfect Blue Buildings”) or Matthew Sweet (“Don’t Go”) can also help with the moody if you’re more into grunge gloom.
When I’m looking for less lyric interference and more drama, I turn to soundtracks and musical operatic styles. Midnight Syndicate and Philip Glass’ Dracula score are sure to inspire. For more operatic vocals, try Destiny Beard or Factory of Dreams. Some of my favorite movie soundtracks are Interview with the Vampire, Fifth Element (especially “Timecrash” and “Lucia Di Lammermoor/Diva Dance”) and of course any of Danny Elfman’s soundtracks like Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, Nightmare Before Christmas…the list is endless.
So what music inspires you to write? Share yours in the comments below and tune in here next time when one of my friends, Tim Reynolds, will share his music inspirations.