Zac Brown Band

Skeleton Crew: 5 Songs To Transform Your Demons Into Prose

By Daniel Ford

I couldn’t very well let the likes of Brian Panowich, David Joy, Michael Farris Smith, Steph Post, and Dave Pezza have all the fun.

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 realityshould 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.

Daniel Ford

Daniel Ford

Daniel Ford is an author based out of Boston, Mass. His work can be found on Amazon, Writer’s Bone,, and Follow him on Twitter

If any authors, writers, or musicians are interested in submitting a post for consideration, email or tweet us@WritersBone.

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10 Country Music Songs To Spark Your Creativity Y’All


By Daniel Ford

I’ve been on a country music kick ever since the Nashville episode of Dave Grohl’s “Sonic Highways.”

Songs about heartache, drinking, and loss fit perfectly with my recent efforts to develop a character who wears Army boots all the time, drinks Bud Lights with his brother, and spends a lot of time alone in cemeteries and diners.

Here are 10 songs with twang that are sure to send your creativity right to the honky-tonk:

“Colder Weather” by Zac Brown Band

Zac Brown got Dave Grohl to produce an album for Zac Brown Band even though the Foo Fighters’ front man had never heard of him. That’s impressive.

What I love about Brown and his band is that they embody exactly what country music should be: humanistic storytelling, pitch-perfect harmonies, and outstanding musicianship. Every country song should double as a short story. Every time I hear the above song, I crave a bourbon and the quiet end of a long, wooden bar.

“Jackson” by Johnny Cash and June Carter

I could have easily chosen “Ring of Fire” or “Folsom Prison Blues,” but this is the song that I typically gravitate to when I need an extra boost of creative fuel. The song is essentially the story of angry, fed-up lovers daring each other to walk away. It’s clear when you hear Cash and Carter sing this tune that neither one of them are going anywhere.

“Lost in the Fifties Tonight” by Ronnie Milsap

No one in music sounds like Ronnie Milsap. His voice is simply one-of-a-kind.

I can’t tell you how many times I listened to this song as a kid. It’s the perfect diner tune; it sounds exactly like something you would play on the jukebox while waiting for your greasy burger and fries.

In addition to providing the right mood for an angsty main character, this song would also be terrific as a first dance at a wedding. Brass band, big voice. It would be an epic slow dance people would remember.

“I Still Believe in You” by Vince Gill

Being a successful writer comes at a cost. It’s a lonely act that can occasionally come before the people you love most. This song serves as a reminder to take a moment, acknowledge the important people in your life, and allow them to feel a part of your creative process.  

Also, Vince Gill can fucking play the guitar. The man knows how to make music.   

“City of New Orleans” by Willie Nelson

How often do your creative neurons start go haywire when you travel? There’s something about a train, plane, or “rusted automobile” that inspires writing in a way few other things can. Willie Nelson’s “City of New Orleans” wakes that feeling up even if you’re standing still or sitting at your computer. It’s a tale of everyday life that can’t help but be optimistic despite its grim finale:

“But all the towns and people seem to fade into a bad dream/And the steel rails still ain't heard the news/The conductor sings his song again, the passengers will please refrain/This train's got the disappearing railroad blues.”  

I’m pretty sure the bad news is that the writer on board realized everything he or she just wrote in his or her notebook is crap.

“Check Yes or No” by George Strait

Struggling with a love story? Listen to this George Strait song and figure it out. It’s not that hard.

“If Drinking Dont Kill Me Her Memory Will” by George Jones

I think the title of this song is pretty self-explanatory. Try not to hurt yourself or others while listening to it.

“Kiss an Angel Good Morning” by Charlie Pride

The outfits in this clip alone should inspire you.

If that’s not enough, listen to this lyric on repeat:

“Kiss an angel good morning and love her like the devil when you get back home.”

 “Jolene” by Dolly Parton

Yeah, Jolene stole that guy.

“The Dance” by Garth Brooks

I’ll just cry myself out.