Sunday, December 5, 2010


I just did a quick project that involved my getting a lot of musical recommendations from people. It's been a long time since I was introduced to so much new music at once, and it reminded me how electrifying it can be to discover a musician you love but have never heard before. I still remember the college friend who got me into REM, and the radio station (WXPN in Philadelphia) that introduced me to Kelly Joe Phelps and so many other blues musicians I wouldn't have found otherwise. Movies and TV commercials have been very powerful in introducing mass audiences to certain tunes.

For me, there's a synergy between music and writing; I almost always have music on while I write. Sometimes people ask me for a playlist for The Secret Year, and I hesitate because the songs I listened to while I wrote the book won't necessarily resonate with anyone else. Also, my musical tastes tend to run heavily toward songs that were written before I was born.

But my recent experience made me think that perhaps I should mention some of the songs I listen to, just because I'm listening to songs that don't exactly get mainstream coverage right now. Maybe someone out there will get to have that joy of discovery. (Or get to feel the joy of superiority if you decide I have crap taste in music.)

So FWIW, here are two songs I listened to over and over while writing The Secret Year, and still associate with that book:
"Temptation," by Tom Waits
"Big Love," by Fleetwood Mac (the 1997 live version, not the earlier version which was totally different)
I didn't listen to "Wicked Game" by Chris Isaak while writing the book, but it's occurred to me since that it would have been perfect.

And here are a few other random songs from my collection, not associated with any particular piece of writing, but which I like:

"Anji," by Simon & Garfunkel
"Fare Thee Well," by Kelly Joe Phelps
"I Just Want to See His Face," by the Rolling Stones
"Get Back," a Beatles tune as done by Daddy Mack Orr
"Flowers Never Bend with the Rainfall," by Simon & Garfunkel
"I Feel So Good," by JB Lenoir

Happy listening, whatever you listen to.

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