There’s no argument in psychology that music stimulates, relaxes and inspires the mind. In fact, what with the effects it has on the physical senses and the neurological chemistry which fires the hippocampus and amygdala, music does the brain a whole world of good.
Music is also cathartic. It is something we listen to whilst we are at our worst, going through a breakup, bereavement and also when we need that loud and non argumentative voice which supports our splenetic mood. So of course music has always had a big part to play in my inspiration when writing.
I normally need silence and only write when I am focused. When I do write with music, classical is the best. There is something so relaxing and inspiring about classical music. It just hydrogenates the mind with clouds and causes a denseness of the senses.
When I was writing Tapeworm Slim, I was also approaching the age of 40. And I wasn’t really coping well with reaching the big milestone. So much life gone, so much not done and so many bygones that I couldn’t move on without a massive sulk. So I listened to music with a more downbeat tone. I have often been a collector of tunes. Sure, I have my favourite bands, but I often find myself hearing a song in a supermarket, catching a tune in a commercial or at the end of a film and thinking “I NEED THAT IN MY HEAD!” before heading to iTunes and finding it.
Tapeworm Slim was already conceived, moving forward and taking shape before any of the next list occurred. They just deserve honourable mentions because they helped make the book what it was.
So then, having hovered up “going in for the kill” by La Roux in Asda, falling for Dido’s “Let us move on” at the end of No Good Deed and collecting a whole horde of inspiration from the Luther TV soundtrack, I was asked to watch the film Wild. To me, a horror loving typical man who likes man films, I expected a horrific two hours of Reese Witherspoon getting on my nerves.
Nope. Loved it.
Especially at the end when, after a wonderful film which bought nostalgia to my mood and tears to my eyes, I heard El Condor Pasa by Simon and Garfunkel and it simply blistered me. I was captivated, haunted and just fell in love with the most amazing piece of music I had heard in a long time. Okay, now I’ve heard it about a million times and it is both my ringtone and wake up alarm song but, at the time, it was new and it moved me deeply.
Those cords, those words, the simple fact the song is so short and leaves you wanting more! It’s very essence contains a feeling which makes something squirm inside your heart and head. That squirming, that tingle every time I hear it, makes me want to just sit and write like a hypnotised sleeper agent!!!!
Of course I got into more Simon and Garfunkel and soon found myself drunkenly wailing to “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, “The Sound Of Silence” and “Scarborough Fair”. It was here that, during frequent writers block, I would pause and have myself some time with the sound of S&G and I would soon find myself back on the right tracks. Their music helped shaped many elements of Tapeworm Slim. Cadie’s emotional moments with Banu and Nurse Six, Kane’s lovelorn connection with Elm and even Scarseed’s sub zero sadism were all gestated from their music.
I still loved classical music. I was also still inspiring myself with some frankly dark and miserable songs but there is nothing like discovering old music which is new to your ears. It’s like falling in love with someone new! It just infuses your senses and becomes addictive as every olfactory, gustatory, aural, visual and tactile senses begin a delusion of control over your body and mind. Even the most passionate song can inspire a deep darkness at 16:00 in the afternoon when you are enjoying wine and chocolates whilst typing on a laptop.
I believe in decadent writing!
Special mention to Hi-Finesse and their song “Rebirth”. That tune, which I heard on the trailer for the film LUCY still inspires me everytime. What a tremendous piece that is and how much more inspiration will come from listening to that song late at night whilst I drown my sorrows and explore where imagination and characters are heading to next. If you haven’t heard it yet, head to YouTube and check it out.
Quite why some songs trigger things in us and others don’t are all subjective and down to personality, perspective, experience and taste. Yet I couldn’t write without music. It is an essential component. I just think its funny that the benign sounds of Simon and Garfunkel contributed to the most heinous character I have ever had the pleasure of writing for!
So there you have it for the time being. Following on from last blog, if Tapeworm Slim ever becomes a film, Keeley Hawes will play Sahara Scarseed and the soundtrack will have Simon and Garfunkel on it! Everything is taking shape!
Tapeworm Slim is on sale now