Monday, June 18, 2012

I've Got a Little List

by Kathleen Bradean

My apologies to Mssrs Gilbert and Sullivan, since my little list isn't people I'd gladly have executed. Instead, our topic this week is our summer music list, or a list of songs we listen to for inspiration. Excuse me for a moment while I consult with my ITunes...

It seems I have two lists depending on what I'm up to. Mostly what I'm up to is driving, since I rarely listen to music unless I'm in the car, but that's about two and a half hours a day. I don't even watch two and a half hours of television a week, so that's a lot of time.

My novel plots tend to be heavy on political intrigue. Layering interweaving motivations and reactions is complex work (or so I tell myself, which is why I'm somewhat content to spend months noodling over my next novel before I set down the first word). The most frequently replayed songs on my "plotting" list are:

Shenandoah performed by Chanticleer
Since I Fell For You performed by Nina Simone
Coffee movement from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite (sometimes called the Arabian Dance)
Claire de Lune by Debussy
Since I Been Loving You by Led Zeppelin

Solace by Scott Joplin, specifically the orchestral version

Listening to them together specifically for this post, what I hear in each of those songs is incredible longing. Maybe I'm projecting. I wrote a story for Clean Sheets website years ago titled Solace or Moonlight (Claire de lune) where the music supervisor for a movie contemplates the perfect soundtrack for a scene where a character wanders the rainy streets of Paris alone at the end of an affair.

My "mood" list is all over the place.

Creep by Radiohead (those lyrics! "I want a perfect body. I want a perfect soul. I want you to notice when I'm not around.")
Kiss covered by Art of Noise and Tom Jones (yes, Tom Jones)
Flor de Mal by Tito Larriva
Crash Into Me by Dave Matthews Band
Closer by Nine Inch Nails
Why Don't You Do Right? (I want to like the Peggy Lee version more, because, well Peggy Lee! But the best cover ever is Amy Irving providing the singing voice for Jessica Rabbit. Go figure. Must be the slower tempo and that hot piano track.)
Sugar In My Bowl by Nina Simone
I'm Gonna Crawl by Led Zeppelin
Desert by Emilie Simon (The French version of the song is better. It was hard to pick between this and I Wanna Be Your Dog, Opium, Dame de Lotus, Fleur de Saison, and I Want to Buy You Flowers. She's an incredible visual artist too, so I suggest her videos for all these songs.)
Need You Tonight by INXS
Siente Mi Amor by Chingon
Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing by Chris Isaak
This Love by Maroon 5 ("I did my best to feed her appetite. Keep her coming every night." ooh yeah, baby.)
Your Body is a Wonderland by John Meyer (sure, he's a total douchebag, but this song is sexy.)
and Bad Things by Jace Everett

 I think you can guess the mood I try to get into.

There are people who can listen to music while they write. Not me. Maybe they tune it out. I can't. But you can bet that next time I'm in the car, I'll probably have one of these songs on if I thinking about writing. If not, it'll be the Eels or Plain White T's or maybe, since it's summer, a bit of this, with the windows down.


  1. It's horrible. I know only a handful of those songs. I think I'm stuck in the 1980s.

    I do wonder, though, why music that's full of a sense of longing should contribute to your weaving your wonderfully intricate plots!

  2. LIsabet - If you would have asked me before I took time to think aobut my list, I would have said that jazz and classical music help me think in terms of a bigger theme woven throught a work, and that the blues help me appreciate the power of simplicity and emotion. But apparently, I just like heartache.

  3. Oh - and I live with teenagers. I find a lot of good new music through them.

  4. Good list! "Good Vibrations" is the perfect summer song - so reminiscent of the 1960s, although it includes the sound of an unusual instrument (based on a vibrating saw) used in the 1920s.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.