By Daniel Ford
I’m currently in the re-writing/editing phase of my debut novel, and along with an assist from authors Scott Cheshire, Anne Leigh Parrish, and the aforementioned Steph Post, as well as Dave and my writing muse/goddess Stephanie Schaefer, music helps me ignore the skeletons in my closet and embrace the better angels of my writer’s soul.
I’ve long maintained that good writing—that writing that violent wrests you away from reality—should read like the author wrote it while on fire (Ross Ritchell’s The Knife and Elliot Ackerman’s Green on Blue are excellent examples). Not flames of desperation, but of an inescapable, all-consuming earnestness that should ignite your own passion for your words and prose.
Here are five songs that might also help light your fuse.
Zac Brown Band “All Right”
This is a good place to start:
“I'd have a lot to give/If I still gave a damn.”
Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young “Love the One Your With”
God, did I force my main character into some crappy situations while I listened to this song. Poor bastard didn’t even see it coming.
“Don't be angry, don't be sad/Don't sit crying over good times you've had/Well there's a girl sitting right next to you/And she's just waiting for something to do.”
My favorite version of this song is on Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young’s “4 Way Street,” but for YouTube purposes, this version featuring four old guys with suspect vocals getting bluesy will do just fine (there’s also nothing like a Neil Young guitar solo to get you going on a Friday afternoon).
Elton John “Take Me to the Pilot”
I’ve long past the point of being objective about Elton John, but I defy anyone to find a subpar version of this song. It can’t be done. Talk about love on fire:
“If you feel that it's real I'm on trial/And I'm here in your prison/Like a coin in your mint/I am dented and I'm spent with high treason.”
And as the video above proves, this song only gets better with age.
Johnny Cash and June Carter "Jackson"
Jesus Christ, what a love affair. Between June Carter's growl and Johnny Cash's swinging hips, I'm surprised the set in this video didn't burn down. This is exactly how I wanted every relationship my main character had to sound: blistering, desperate, and just a little bit angry.
Zac Brown Band “Let it Rain”
Fuck it. Why not end with one more tune from Zac Brown Band’s brilliant “Dave Grohl Sessions, Vol..1?”
After you’re done with the first draft of your novel, you have to celebrate. I opened up a bottle of single malt scotch, eased back in my desk chair, and smiled the widest grin I could muster. You’re certainly not at the end of the road, but you’ve hit a major milestone, so enjoy the moment. Let your skeletons darken your door a final time, and then calmly, confidently extend your middle finger.
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