Music to Write By…

A very quick one, image free and hastily written today because I need to get back to writing real stuff…

I saw a post earlier today from Georgia Springate, author of Beyond (a book I’ve previously recommended – and which you should check out), who put down some of the music she listens to while writing. It’s an interesting list set out by genre – romance, drama and action and, given that she’s the same age as my son is quite a different list to the sort of music I tend to listen to these days  (but hey, I’m still down with the kids, honest – the Catfish and the Bottlemen gig me and #1 son went to shortly after the release of The Balcony reminded me of the energy I used to get when I was his age going to see bands like The Ramones, The Cult, Jesus and Mary Chain, and The Daintees back at Newcastle Mayfair in the mid ’80’s…likewise going to see The Bonnevilles in the now-defunct Assembly and having to stand next to one of their speakers left me deaf for two days – that’s not the sort of thing you tend to get going to the bigger venues to see stadium level bands as tends to be the norm for me these days).

I tend to listen to music a lot when I write – that’s a nice thing about writing these days – I don’t have to go to the packing cases where my 3,000+ CDs reside: I’ve loaded them all up onto my PC – and besides I hear they have things called Spotify and iTunes Music these days… so, there’s a lot to listen to, and it’s a damn sight easier to make a playlist than it used to be when tape-to-taping the whole thing (yes, sadly I AM that old…)

I like to have music on that helps my writing mood rather than distract me from it – so I’ll tend to listen to stuff I know well by artists I am very familiar with. It’s not exactly background music, but if I’m listening to new stuff, it can occasionally distract me. So if I look at my most commonly listened performers it will feature the likes of Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave, Cowboy Junkies, Sonny Rollins, Robbie Robertson, Chet Baker, Bruce Springsteen, Martin Stephenson, Tom Waits, Glenn Gould – a mixed bunch, but all familiar to me over the years.

I will, occasionally, create a playlist though – pull something together and leave it for a few days so I can’t remember what I’ve put on there. I did that last weekend and while I don’t set myself rigid times to start and finish writing, having the luxury of a full day to write I put together a five-hour long playlist (again – something easier to do these days than on cassette…)  It’s…eclectic – no real pattern of mood or genre but just for gits and shiggles, here was what I had on it…it might not work for you, but I got a few thousand words out of this lot…

The Weight                         The Band

Get It Together                 Beastie Boys

Wake Up                             Arcade Fire

Still Fighting It                    Ben Folds

Dog Got A Bone                 Beta Band

There Is A Valley              Bill Fay

The Downtown Lights    The Blue Nile

Don’t Fall Apart On Me Tonight  Bob Dylan

Crazy Love                          Brian Kennedy

My City Of Ruins               Bruce Springsteen

Quelqu’un M’a Dit           Carla Bruni

Wicked Game                    Chris Isaak

Holiday In Spain                Counting Crows

Susan’s House                   Eels

Almost Blue                        Elvis Costello & the Attractions

Hard Drive                          Evan Dando

Far from Any Road          The Handsome Family

Lawless Avenues             Jackson Browne

Take Me with You (When You Go) The Jayhawks

Trash City                            Joe Strummer

Stood Up                             John Hiatt

Watching the Wheels     John Lennon

Hurt                                     Johnny Cash

Where the Night Goes  Josh Ritter

Great Puzzle                      Jules Shear

Big Gay Heart                     The Lemonheads

Closing Time                       Leonard Cohen

Native American              Little Steven

Walk On the Wild Side   Lou Reed

Me & Matthew                 Martin Stephenson and the Daintees

What’s Going On              Marvin Gaye

You Send Me                     Mary Coughlan

Anchorage                          Michelle Shocked

Hell Yeah                             Neil Diamond

People Ain’t No Good    Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

Ain’t Got No – I Got Life Nina Simone

In Your Eyes                       Peter Gabriel

Rain Street                          The Pogues

Goodbye Lucille #1          Prefab Sprout

Around the World In a Day          Prince

Can’t Hardly Wait             The Replacements

Golden Feather                 Robbie Robertson & the Red Road Ensemble

Answering Bell                  Ryan Adams

This Is a Rebel Song         Sinéad O’Connor

Woke Up This Morning Alabama 3

Up The Junction                Squeeze

Goodbye                             Steve Earle

Walls (Circus)                     Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Hold On                                Tom Waits

Widow’s Grove                 Tom Waits

Pancho and Lefty             Townes Van Zandt

Coney Island                      Van Morrison

Lift Me Up                           Vince Staples

Reconsider Me                 Warren Zevon

The Stolen Child               The Waterboys

I Can See Clearly Now    Willie Nelson

Stay You                               Wood

Put The Message in The Box       World Party

Gone Till November       Wyclef Jean

Southern Accents [live] Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

Hero                                      Family of the Year

Could We                            Cat Power

Friend of the Devil           Lyle Lovett

Like A Rolling Stone         Bob Dylan

Powderfinger                    The Beat Farmers

Right, back to scribbling, and it’s feeling like a Ryuichi Sakamoto morning…




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