Music as scene motivation

As I have mentioned before, I listen to songs obsessively when I’m writing, sometimes listening to one song on repeat for an hour while I write a scene.  I make up the playlists by going through my extensive music library and listening to snippets to see if they fit the emotions I think I’ll need for the book.  I’ll rearrange the playlists as the story grows and sometimes I move the songs around trying to get the emotions right for the story. I’ll delete songs that don’t fit anymore or extent an emotion for too long.

In my tens of thousands of songs, there are a few I don’t know, so I’ll put the whole collection on repeat and see if anything catches my attention. I discover new songs this way. (This is why I have to keep deleting the 300 Christmas songs from my library. Though I did use a Christmas song for City Boy)

Or, like with this new book, I find a new interpretation of a song I’ve listened to a million times.  My current work in Progress, City Boy, has a playlist, kind of country music heavy, starting with Garth Brooks’s “Much too Young to Feel This Damn Old.” That is the main song for Bryce’s state of mind as the book opens. (Bryce is the 34-year-old hockey player we meet on the evening of his reitrement party.)

I have this one song, linked below, “40 Dogs” by Bob Schneider that I love to sing, but I never really ‘got’ the lyrics. It seemed to somehow fit this book, thought I didn’t know how when I added it. It’s a love song, but the things he’s singing about are not particularly or necessarily good. This is the beginning of the chorus:

We’re like Romeo and Juliet,
We’re like 40 dogs, cigarettes

Romeo and Juliet? Not the best love story. 40 dogs? Too much of a good thing. Cigarettes? Addicting, people crave them love them. And they can kill you.

But after listening to it for however many times in a row I did, I caught a line I hadn’t before. He says, “It’s not as easy as I said it’d be, but there’s something right about you and me.” And I realized the song totally sums up this relationship. It’s about the craziness of a new relationship, throwing caution to the wind and doing it despite all the obstacle.  It’s not easy and it’s too much sometimes and maybe crazy at times. Bryce and Dakota ‘throw the careful into the crazy’ because ‘to make a fire, gotta burn a few.’

But the chorus ends:

We’re like good times that haven’t happened yet but will.
And I can tell you where we’re gonna be
When the whole world falls to the sea:
We’ll be living ever after, happily.

Which is where my guys always end up: living happily ever after. They are, after all, made for each other.

Here’s the video. (I’m not a fan of the video, even though it was directed by Robert Rodriguez. But it does have Kat Denning in it, so that’s a plus.)


Bonus music video – For Bronze Star, Savage Garden’s “Chained to You” was the song I used for how Jay-Cee felt when he looked at or thought about Chris. So anytime I was unsure of Jay-Cee’s motivations, I just put the song on. I didn’t know this song before I started writing, didn’t know Jay-Cee that well. But some of the lines that kept drawing me back to the song:

We were standing all alone
You were leaning in to speak to me
Acting like a mover shaker
Dancing to Madonna then you kissed me

(so I wrote a song where Chris dances to Madonna. That’s when Jay-Cee falls in love with him.)

And I think about it all the time
Sweet temptation rush all over me
And I think about it all the time
Passion desire so intense I can’t take anymore because

I feel the magic all around you
It’s bringing me to my knees
Like a wannabe
I’ve got to be chained to you

Tell me it’s madness I barely know you

And when you look into my eyes
Felt a sudden sense of urgency
Fascination casts a spell and
You became more than just a mystery
And I think about you all the time
Is this fate is it my destiny
That I think about you all the time
I no longer pretend to have my hand on the wheel 

I’m fair sure my roommates were ready to kill me after the 10,000th playing of this song. They’re both in rock bands.

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