Ssh … come closer … you listening? I’m going tell you a secret … well, ok maybe secret is a bit dramatic. Let’s just say I’m going to share something with you. Yes … share. That sounds better. And more realistic … don’t want to build you all up in anticipation of a wholesome, homemade, chocolate brownie, drizzled in fresh cream and topped with strawberries and then offer you a frozen aldi cupcake!.
What I want to share with you is music. My music. The music of my book to be exact. Strange that since I’ve stated this journey I have never thought to share its music with anybody. Ever since I can remember there has been a sound track to my life. I always wished that I could be one of those people who pick a genre and followed it – people who immersed themselves in it, and knew everything about it and the people who populated its soundwaves. But, as with books, I am also a music whore. Reggae, rock, pop, jazz, classical, punk, traditional, sean-nós, opera … I have always flitted from one to the other, gleaning sounds and songs that resonated with me, never mastering any genre, merely dipping my toes into the depths of them all. My early teens were struggled through to the sound of the Hothouse Flowers, UB40, Primal Scream, Pearl Jam, Five Star, Bros, (don’t you dare judge me!), Michael Jackson, Vivaldi, Kate Bush, Tracey Chapman. My twenties shimmied along to lullabies and kids tunes, Hanson, Run DMC, Yaz, Whitney Housten, The Fugees, No Doubt, Oasis, Bob Marley, Blur. There were songs for when I danced on top of the world, and others for when I crawled in confusion at the bottom of the sea bed. Through my thirties and in to my current early forty year old state, I still love all the new stuff, but the hidden story-telling balladeer in me thrives on the likes of Mick Flannery, Tom Waits, Mick Christopher, Declan O’Rourke, Ed Sheeran, with a fistful of Florence and the Machine and London Grammar thrown in for good measure.
But if you were to ask me what do I return to most, what calls me back most often, I would have to say instrumentals. There is something about listening to a song with no lyrics that, for me, makes the possibilities endless. The feelings and emotions they stir up, are your own. It is how you interpret them, and no one else, that gives them their meaning. The music draws you in because it reflects, somehow, the way you are feeling. The Mission soundtrack and The Big Blue were my background noise for so many years – think I might have a melancholic soul because it’s always the slow ones I’m magnetised to (note: don’t ask me to sing at a party or I may reduce the entire crowd to tears with a devastating Janis Ian number!).
So (I’m getting to the sharing bit … I promise) when I first sat down to write I searched the interweb for songs to boost creativity (It is bloody amazing what shite you can find with a single click of a mouse!). I listened to native american-indian nature sounds, to binaural beats, the “Most relaxing sounds in the world – Ever”, whales mating, birds chirping, rainfall, sounds of the sea … but none of them worked and only served to annoy me. Then my beautiful first born intoduced me to Ludovico Einaudi’s song Le Onde and suddenly I had found my sound. Ever since then, when sitting down to write this is the music I play (no, not just the one song, smartarse! All of them!). This music is the sound I had been looking for. It is the sound and rhythm of the story I am telling. I see my story in pictures before the words come, like a movie reel playing in my head and Einaudi’s songs slot in at different times for different people and places.
This one, the one I’m sharing here, is the tone of my main protagonist, Kate. When I see her, when we meet at the computer and figure out where she is going next, the notes of this song float in the ether between us. This song, for me, defines what she has been through and where she is going. I don’t know if she is going to make it out the other end of the book, don’t know if it’s going to pan out like she desperately wants it to, and I feel this in the music.
So, I’d like you to do me a favour. Close your eyes and listen to this. Listen to this and tell me if you can see her. A woman, who has lost everything, been to hell and back, and is now running. Running away, but all the time looking to come home. Looking for her place, looking for some small moment of peace that can sustain her in a world that has lost all meaning.
Sometimes where words fail, music speaks. I hope you can hear it.