Authors are often asked what motivates them to write a specific story. For some, it’s a dream. For others, music is the muse of choice, so much so that they are quick to offer the playlists they used as background music either as an appendix or on a website.
I admit to falling into the latter category myself but often, though, I think it’s difficult to realize the effect that our own relationship to the music has on our muse.
Last weekend, I finally had the pleasure of seeing my favorite band – Keane. I can hear a few you stateside asking, “Who?” Unfortunately, the quartet hasn’t enjoyed the notoriety here in the U.S. like it has in other parts of the world where they play to arenas and stadiums. The fans who do follow the band are cult-like in our devotion. In Atlanta, one woman came from Chile specifically to see the band and almost the entire front row, myself included, was from Florida.
This show was at the Tabernacle, a converted Baptist Church – talk about a religious experience! Midway through the group’s set of 21 songs, lead singer Tom Chaplin sat at the keyboard across the stage from his longtime bandmate Tim Rice-Oxley, who was at another keyboard. Tom spoke about one of Keane’s darkest moments – his own downward spiral into drug addiction and subsequent rehab then they began “Hamburg Song.”
Keane has profoundly influenced my own writing and my story playlists feature the band prominently. The music covers of myriad of character emotions. If a song is more upbeat, the lyrics still contain enough angst to fuel half dozen brooding Bella Swans, whiny Luke Skywalkers or, in the case of my current novel, Genevieve Matthews. The slower songs are haunting in their composition and “Hamburg Song” falls into this latter category.
For me, it’s all about friendship and the helplessness a person feels when you watch a friend destroy himself. The melody begins with the echo of an organ before Tom’s crisp voice enters (lyrics at Keane’s site here.)
To see this song performed live brought me to tears by the second verse. I realized then that I wanted to bring that type of tangible emotion to my characters and their relationships. I wanted to pick up a pen and start writing.
Love that kind of inspiration!