Not too long ago, I wrote a guest post for Rachel Thompson, a fellow author, as part of her ongoing series about raw and honest moments in life — where Rachel collects what sometimes are the darkest of memories, and how each person, each writer of life, survived and thrived. What I find most amazing about these posts is how each person tells intimate stories of perseverance — many of these natural and raw moments are harrowing and necessary reading. They help to dispel myths, say, “Hey, if this happened to me, it can happen to anyone.” I learned from that. Many people live with secrets too dire to suppress. Rachel has created a safe place to share these truths, and I am grateful for her kindness. When we began a friendship through Twitter, Triberr, Facebook, Pinterest, and Skype, I knew I was about to discover a friend for life.
One great commonality Rachel and I share is a love of music. We both cannot stop listening to music while writing, playing, working. Right now Sam Phillips is singing about Entertainmen, the opening track off her incredible yet overlooked album Omnipop (It’s Only a Flesh Wound Lambchop). I know that Plastic Is Forever and Animals on Wheels will pour forth from my speakers and I will be in blissville. So, it was a no-brainer to ask Rachel to be a part of my ongoing series of posts linking creativity, a muse who can listen and dance, with music. These are Rachel’s picks. I discovered something new in the list, and thank Rachel for that. Here is what Rachel has to say:
Music is our soul. It reveals who we are in ways we cannot begin to imagine. It binds us and connects us.
Writing without music is like asking me to drink my coffee without cream and sugar. No can do.
But, I am very specific about the type of music I write to. Never much of a death or thrash metal fan, which comes in handy in the ‘choosing music for writing’ department, I tend to listen to women’s voices when I need muse inspiration.
Growing up, I tagged along to my older sister’s piano lessons. When my mom noticed I was practicing her lessons instead, she enrolled me also. So from age six to almost college, I took classical piano. (Now I mostly play The Beatles.)
I have an affinity for much of the rock music that came out in the late-70s and early 80s – the music that for me defined my generation. Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors, Pink Floyd’s The Wall, Heart’s Dreamboat Annie (Magic Man, Crazy On You) . . . these are all faves and in my regular iTunes rotation.
I adore having music at my fingertips on iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, Amazon – I embrace it all. The ease and quality cannot be beat. I’ve finally moved my dad to CDs from vinyl, but I think that is as far as he will ever get. I love that I can pick and choose songs this way; he, of course, is against the whole process. “Artists make albums, dolly. This is how we should listen to them,” he says. And he is right.
The following ten albums (they’re still albums to me) are the ones I crave when I’m writing. These are the rare gems where there is never a song I want to remove.
I write mostly nonfiction, and for my latest title, Broken Pieces, I’m traveling deep into the darker recesses of my soul to share stories of love, lust, desire, fear, anger, and grief.
This particular music brings the muse to me:
Haunted (Bonus Track Version) by Poe
A concept album released over ten or twelve years ago, I still play this one almost daily. Amazed (track 16) is my fav: ‘I’m not really sure just what it is you do, but do it again’ and ‘The hallways I wouldn’t mind crawling through, and I’d do it for days and for days’ –- if that doesn’t speak of reckless longing and love, I don’t know what does. There’s even a sitar! Every song on this album is great, and sprinkled with her father’s voice throughout (who had passed). A stunning album.
10-Cent Wings and Steady Pull by Jonatha Brooke
A terrifically talented singer/songwriter who’s known for her genius harmonization, I’m always blown away by her lyrics. Here, my two favorite songs from my two fave albums: Crumbs (from 10-Cent Wings): I can tell, by the way you’re pushing crumbs around the table, you’re not listening to me; and you say you have come as far as you are able, but you’re not far from the tree. So insightful. New Dress (from Steady Pull): a duet with Neil Finn (of Crowded House), it’s one of the most perfect songs I’ve ever heard: lyrics, music, harmonies. Cause you take me to the window, luv and you leave the light on. You take off my uniform and say baby put this new dress on.
Ellipse by Imogen Heap
A friend of mine who is a music producer recommended this album to me, knowing my affinity for both voice and instrumental. When I heard the song 2-1 done both ways, I was in heaven. It’s gorgeous. But truly, everything she does is great. This entire album is, I feel, the perfect capsule of her artistic excellence.
The Globe Sessions by Sheryl Crow
Like everyone else, we couldn’t escape her first few albums. This one, however, really cemented her for me as a talented musician (she plays over twenty instruments) and lyricist. I can’t hear The Difficult Kind without tearing up. ‘Tell it to me slow; tell me with your eyes. If anyone should know, how to let it slide. I swear I can see you coming up the drive, and there ain’t nothing like regret, to remind you you’re alive.’ (I have an essay titled The Difficult Kind, about an ex-lover who committed suicide, in my first book. This song resonates so deeply for me, it’s almost painful.) And her sister Kathy sings backup, which I think is a cool family vibe.
The Best of Zero 7 or simply called Record (in the states) by Zero 7
Rarely a fan of ‘best of’ albums, I adore this one because all my fave songs are here: In The Waiting Line (A-MAZ-ING song), Passing By, Speed Dial No. 2, Left Behind, Destiny (the remix is wicked), Somersault, Throw It All Away, and Pageant of the Bizarre. There’s no one favorite song with this band. Sia got her start here.
(every album) by Sia
I have three of her albums and I love them all. Standouts: Beautiful Calm Driving (from Some People Have Real Problems) and Cloud and I’m In Here (from We Are Born). Talented singer/songwriter with a terrific voice and spirit. And I love how her songs run the gamut of deeply melancholy to joyful.
Poison & Wine EP by The Civil Wars
When I heard the song Pressing Flowers, I wrote a slew of essays for my next book. One of those beautifully plaintive songs of a secret, dying love, I challenge you to not be mesmerized. Harmonies so skilled as to be awe-inspiring. (Their album Barton Hallow is also excellent. I know many authors who write to their all-instrumental and gorgeous, The Violet Hour.)
Water by Fisher
Kath Fisher is an incredible vocalist and songwriter. You’re thinking, “I’ve never heard of her!” but you’d be wrong. I Will Love You is so well known, it’s almost ridiculous . . . but nobody knows who sings it. Many people know the duo (husband and wife) from the commercial ditty Beautiful Life, but she’s so much more. When I heard this album, I was stunned by the maturity of her voice; and when you hear the story behind the album (about her father’s death), you’ll sit and listen to the whole thing over and over also. Breathe, Victims of the Sky, Water Burial, and Words are my favorites but the whole collection is something to enjoy and savor.
Bedtime Stories by Madonna
Of course, I must have Madge on my list. Writing about what I do — Mancode, men and women, sex, love and relationships — I’m often given a hard time by people who don’t see the humor. Practicing my Four Agreements, I don’t take it personally.
Sometimes, playing Human Nature helps. A lot. (“Express yourself, don’t repress yourself. I’m not your bitch; don’t hang your shit on me.”)
In truth, it’s her song Sanctuary from this album that inspired me to write my first work of fiction. It’s a great little offbeat song. I find I’m often drawn to the songs on her albums that receive little to no airplay. This is one, and it is terrific.
Woodface by Crowded House
A fan of all things Finn (Split Enz – I Got You), this album is the height of all the wonderful music released by this extremely talented band. Sure, Don’t Dream It’s Over made them famous (as it should have – helluva song – who didn’t hear that song and say ‘That will be a hit, by golly.’) but songs like Weather With You, Whispers and Moans, Four Seasons In One Day, and All I Ask could not be more perfect.
#11 A Bonus Pick
Songs For A Hurricane by Kris Delmhorst
You’re No Train is one of those songs you’ll play over and over. Her voice is beautiful but it’s more than that – the lyrics are multi-layered, you have to keep listening to catch it all. I felt such a shaking, and I heard such a whir, and I swore we were moving fast enough to blur . . . and I opened up my eyes, found we were right back where we were.
Come on. Wow. (Hummingbird is also a stunner.)
I know I’m limited to ten and somehow I fit twelve in here, but so what? (They don’t call me BadRedhead for nothin’.) And, maybe you learned about more great artists and albums you may have never heard of. Oh well.
Rachel is a creative, focused writer of both fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. She published two original ebooks on the differences between men and women, how they communicate, sometimes in very hilarious ways. A Walk in the Snark, and The Mancode: Exposed, are available as ebooks at Amazon. She is also the founder of Bad Redhead Media and has begun to offer book promotional services to different genres of writers under several of her Indie Book Promo web sites. I don’t know when she sleeps, but she listens to incredible music — her muse must be dancing all the time. Enjoy listening to Rachel and her favorite tunes.
Thank you and let the music play,
If you would like to see the Top 10 albums that help author Eden Baylee create, please click HERE.
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