By Steph Post
This is not the soundtrack for my novel A Tree Born Crooked. I put that baby out on Largehearted Boy’s Book Notes series a few months ago. The novel soundtrack featured artists such as Rancid, Hank III, Reverend Horton Heat, and, of course, Tom Waits.
That was the playlist of Budweiser, pickup trucks, and cheap motels. Each song had a particular scene or character that it was perfectly matched to. This is the playlist of dreams. They are mostly instrumental songs because usually words get in the way of making words. These are the songs of late nights and early mornings. The songs meant for that space between reality and fantasy, which is the manna that writers feed on. Those liminal moments after the last glass, when the line between yourself and your characters blur. When anything is possibly, because you can make it possible. Even if you’re only lying on the floor with your headphones in, eyes closed, doors in your head opening. These are the song you are meant to give in to. The songs you listen to alone, so you can create a story for someone else.
Cat Power or Michael Hurley “Werewolf”
(Both versions are equally haunting) This is for the fairytales. For the archetypal fears that will bubble to the surface if we let them.
Alexandre Desplat “The Imitation Game”
This is for peeling back the layers on the characters wearing the masks. For seeing behind and beneath.
Dawn Mitchele “Float Like a Feather”
This is for trying to understand romance. For breaking it down into its most essential instance: vulnerability.
Trevor Morris “Messenger of War”
This is for the epics. For trying to dream on a grander scale.
Hans Zimmer “Coward”
This is for understanding what’s at stake. For putting two characters in a room, locking the door and letting it all play out from there.
Brandon Flowers “Only the Young”
This is for the moment of hope. For letting the heroes win.
Nine Inch Nails “The Hand that Feeds”
This is for the badass characters. The women who take no prisoners. The men who refuse to compromise.
The Evolved “Theme from World War Z”
This is for urgency. This is for setting the story in motion.
Clint Mansell “Lux Aeterna”
This is for sadness. For saying goodbye. For the character who has to be sacrificed for the story.
Foo Fighters “Walk”
This is for screaming “fuck you” at the top of your lungs. To the critics. To the voices of doubt within yourself. To not having enough time or space or inspiration. This is the gauntlet thrown down in challenge.
May we all take it. May we all slip on our headphones and dare to dream. And then dare even further to write.
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