Music is the background for many writers as they wind their ways through novels, short stories, memoirs, sonnets and villanelles. The characters in my novel-in-stories each have their own particular musical preferences, from Johnny Cash and Wanda Jackson to Elton John and Cream, and one sings songs from popular musicals to his daughter as lullabies. But in these cases, of the writers and of those they've written, the music remains in the background, coming forward only to add color or dimension to a scene or to enliven a character.
In my next book, a collection of stories, the music will bellow and beat in the foreground, for each piece will recall an aspect of a country song. Who can resist writing about broken-down trucks, broken marriages, and runaway dogs? So thinking on the past twelve months, I can’t help but laugh a little. The soundtrack of 2011 is certainly the inspiration for that of 2012, and out of the bend of notes come stories, each with a unique rhythm and framework and narrative voice.
January – The Black-Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling”
- Hey, it was the new year, when one eats black-eyed peas for good luck and then dances around to their sweet, bouncing beat
February – The White Stripe’s “Jolene”
- Flying over the snow-covered Sierra Nevadas en route to San Francisco for a Narrative Writing Workshop
March – Paul Simon’s “Rewrite”
- I rewrote the first chapter of my novel-in-stories, later published by Iron Horse Literary Review in their Father’s Day Issue – June 2011 - just like Paul sings, “I said, Help me, help me, help me, help me -Thank You!” - exactly…
April – Cream’s “White Room”
- That’s what happens when you plant your ass in the chair and don’t get up until it’s done – the room turns white and weird, Eric and Jack begin to sing, while Ginger just thrashes about…
May – Wanda Jackson and Jack White – “Thunder on the Mountain”
- When it’s raining out and you’re wishing for the sun and a fast car and a mountain to race down – “You better roll your windows down” – by the way I love this video! and yes, admit it, you love the white fringe and have been in that room!
June – John Prine and Iris Dement’s “In Spite of Ourselves”
(written by J.P.)
- The realization of what we've done and what remains to be done! Ah, couples...
August – Steve Earle’s “This City”
- The sixth anniversary of Katrina - S.E. with the Preservation Jazz Band in NYC
September – Emmylou Harris’ “Wrecking Ball”
(written by Neil Young)
- Summer ends and you realize you just wanted one more dance
October – Townes Van Zandt’s “To Live Is to Fly”
- This is what happens when you light up with ideas…
November – Steve Earle / Emmylou Harris – “Goodbye”
(written by S. E.)
- Preparing to bid farewell to the old year and a finished draft
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=ctDVZditHzY - S.E. – album
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rr2IY8q687I&feature=related - S.E. & E.H. – live
December – Emmylou Harris – “Sweet Old World
(written by Lucinda Williams)
- Dark winter days, Xmas lights reflecting the snow and ice
And just because I’m from New Orleans and believe in baker’s dozens and lagniappe, here’s one more!
Wanda Jackson’s “Sparklin’ Brown Eyes”
- This one for the brown-eyed boys in my story, “Skylight,” in New Delta Review's Issue 2.1