(If you haven’t read Finding the Grain, please note there are some spoilers in the comments below.)
I don’t have a talent for music at all, and I can’t carry a tune in a bucket with a lid on it. Most of the time I lip sync in church. But I love music, and I greatly admire the talented songwriters who can tell a whole story in just three or four minutes. It usually takes me at least 100,000 words to tell a story. Still, I draw inspiration from their work, often listening to a song again and again to get a scene or a chapter right. One of my first glimpses of Blue Riley came from an Indigo Girls song titled, Gone Again. Mary Gauthier’s gritty lyrics and songs of hope during the hard times took me to the places I needed to go to get into the heart of Blue Riley’s bareknuckle survival. And there were songs of joy, too; songs that brought me glimpses of my characters dancing, singing horribly off key, and feeling the sunshine warming their faces.
While I was writing the last part of Finding the Grain, I developed a playlist to keep me going. Since I’m a slow writer, I often used these songs to bring me back to my characters. So now, with the story written and out into the world, I’d like to give a shout out to the artists who sparked my imagination and kept me inspired. Here is the playlist I so creatively named, Writing Stuff.
It’s Been Awhile – By Staind
Comment – The driving, angry beat of this song seemed a perfect match for Blue’s state of mind when Grace walks back into her life. The entire arc of lyrics of this song really fit Blue’s journey as she wrestled with her feelings.
Ain’t Even Done With the Night – John Cougar
Comment – John Cougar. What can I say? This song was popular when I was in college. I listened to it a lot back then. Listening to it now took me back to those days and nights.
She’s a Lady – Tom Jones
Comment – This song is outrageous to the point of being flirtatious when imagined in the right context. I wrote a scene that took place on Lake Norman; Blue and Grace in a ski boat, Grace driving and singing this song at the top of her lungs. I later cut the scene from the manuscript. Still, it was fun to write.
Come on Get Higher – Matt Nathanson
Comment – Ah, the struggle of love; the physical desire, the faith, the hope, the longing, the crazy belief that everything will work. “…faith and desire at the swing of your hips..everything works in your arms.” Pushing the world away for stolen moments.
Wonderful Tonight – Eric Clapton
Unforgettable – Nat “King” Cole and Natalie Cole
The Way You Look Tonight – Frank Sinatra
Comment – I used these three songs to get Blue’s mindset right for the Atlanta scenes. Of course, Unforgettable made it to the page.
Let’s Get It On – Marvin Gaye
Comment –Marvin Gaye could make potato peeling sound sexy.
Right In Time – Lucinda Williams
Comment – “Not a day goes by I don’t think about you. You left your mark on me. It’s permanent, a tattoo.” Have you listened to this song? Do I need to say more? Love me some Lucinda!
The Weakness in Me – Joan Armatrading
Comment – Cheating never sounded so good.
Drive – Melissa Ferrick
Comment – Well, yeah.
I Saw – Matt Nathanson
Comment – Even though Finding the Grain was written in first person, I sometimes needed to think of the story from Grace’s point of view. This song helped me switch from Blue’s mind to Grace’s.
I Ain’t Leaving – Mary Gauthier
Comment – I love Mary Gauthier’s songwriting. The emotional honesty she brings to her songs is hard to beat. The first lines of this song are, “Broken on the inside, that’s what I used to say.” Blue Riley to the core.
This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)
Comment – Happy endings, we all love them. I think I’ll develop a happy-ending dance. Totally kidding, folks. Nobody wants that.
You’re the First, the Last, My Everything – Barry White
Comment – For a long time I envisioned this song in the epilogue. They lyrics seemed to embody Blue’s journey with Grace. Then I read Marcia Finical’s book, and I knew exactly how I wanted to structure the epilogue for Finding the Grain. Even though the original epilogue scene didn’t make it to the page, it is still pops into my mind from time to time.
The Long and Winding Road by The Beatles wasn’t on the playlist, but I’ve listened it many times since I finished the Finding the Grain. Give it a listen when you get a minute. You’ll understand why.
For all you young folks out there, this is my iPod, ancient model. It still contains the above playlist.