Music for Writers, Part I


Sometimes it’s not enough to put pen to paper; sometimes you have to give the creative state a little nudge in the right direction.  These are songs that I’ve gone back to with that in mind.  I usually write without any distractions, but when I hit a wall, I listen to one of these songs to help me with the mood.

I’ve split this into two parts, and I had to exclude some songs because while Spotify has a lot of songs, they don’t have all the songs, so in this case you’re missing out on some Chocolate Genius Incorporated and Nujabes.


Track 1: Aceyalone / The Way It Was – use this one to get pumped up about starting in the first place; good writing should be coming straight out of the oven, hot and playful.

Track 2: Alex Clare / Damn Your Eyes – this cover of an Etta James song has a deliberate cadence and sparseness that make it perfect for writing certain kinds of passion and anger.

Track 3: Darren Korb / Build That Wall (Zia’s Theme) – this is a song from the criminally underexposed video game Bastion.  This song in particular is simple and haunting.  There’s something a little menacing about the lyrics, too.

Track 4: The Be Good Tanyas / Ship Out On The Sea – this one is warm, harmonious, even lovely.  It’s upbeat enough to not be lethargic, and it really evokes a kind of relationship that’s more platonic than romantic.

Track 5: Brandon Vance & Mark Minkler / Song For Taryn – expansive, lush… there’s something about the piano/fiddle combination that just evokes rolling green hills and scattered wildflowers.

Track 6: Corinne Bailey Rae / No Lovechild – this one is very intimate, even playful at the end.  For me this one evokes happiness and joy.  The way it builds up is perfect in a narrative sense, too… you can see how it leads somewhere.

Track 7: Cults / Go Outside – So part of the way I write scenes is to imagine them from different angles.  I’ll rehash things in different terms to see what’s really important.  In this case, I look at a bunch of scenes from the book as quick cuts of a movie trailer with this song playing in the background.  No dialogue, just a couple seconds of each scene and this song and ask myself: what story am I telling?

Track 8: Lake Street Dive / My Heart’s In the Right Place – Lake Street Dive is my current obsession.  Partly because as a pop/jazz quartet they’re just right in the middle of my wheelhouse, and partly because of this (3:30 to 3:40…and all of it) and this and basically Rachael Price’s voice in general.  This song in particular I actually use as anti-writing… it just takes me away from the current problem for a moment.  It’s a great song to just close your eyes and sink into.

Track 9: Megafaun / Kill The Horns – there’s something about the way this song is broken into discreet parts that makes it great to write dialogue to.  There’s a cadence to it that sounds almost conversational.

Track 10: Popular Computer / Lointain (Robotaki Remix) – this one is pure “let’s get this shit done” music.  And boy does it do a great job.  I’ve thought about putting a piece of tape over my macbook’s camera because I don’t want whatever government agency controls it to see me chair-dancing to this song.

Anyway, that’s Part I of the list.  If y’all dig it, I’ll get to work on Part II.


2 comments on “Music for Writers, Part I

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