It’s been a couple of months since I wrote anything for this blog as I’ve been trying to focus on my new project, a group of interlinked stories under the working title: The Mother and the Ghost.
Then Billy Joel’s Until the Night came on the radio this morning and I found myself reliving the delicious tension between anticipation and patience of a drive through Friday night traffic, dazzled by street lights and headlights, drawing gradually closer to the special someone I’d been yearning for all week. Then I began to think about how much I use music as an inspiration for my stories and I wanted to write about it.
I don’t mean highbrow music – I’m confused and overawed by the great composers. I admire the classics from a respectful distance, but I simply don’t understand the language. Besides which, I’m a words person. To be seriously stirred, I need lyrics with my melodies and I’m happy to admit that I’m most in tune with those genres that are accessible and ‘popular’.
I’m aware that I often use pop music as a background to my stories: a selection of Beatles and John Lennon hits in Belvedere Road or a quick mention of Katie Melua in Room 516 (both from The Woman Who Never Did). I’ve also used music to create atmosphere, in a scripted version of The Dolls’ House (The Pow-Wow Book of Ghost Stories) the old music hall song I Don’t Want to Play in Your Yard was just what I needed to build up the creepiness quotient.
But even those stories that don’t feature a specific track or singer in the final version usually have a song hidden inside them – something that moved me and helped me find a particular mood, or even sparked the idea in the first place. For example, I have pages of notes and a very rough first draft that evolved from listening to Taylor Swift’s The Lucky One after reading a classic French fairy tale.
The story I’m working on at the moment (one that will eventually be a part of The Mother and the Ghost) has its emotional roots in Roberta Flack singing The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face and Carly Simon’s version of I’ve Got to Have You, further encouraged by this recording of Kiki Dee singing Amoureuse.
So thank you for the inspiration, Roberta, Carly and Kiki. Thank you Taylor, Katie, John, Paul, George and Ringo. Thank you to all the ladies I found on YouTube singing I Don’t Want to Play in Your Yard. And thank you, Thank You, THANK YOU to Billy Joel for reminding me how much I owe to you all.