Playlist #14

This week is my father’s birthday! For the playlist, I chose songs from bands we’ve seen play live. Going to concerts was how my father and I bonded (rather than sports, or cars, or reading interests, or stuff like that. I don’t think he was particularly ready to have an indoor son), and we’ve seen some great shows over the years.

  1. The Doobie Brothers, “Black Water”: The first concert I went to was in the 5th grade, and it was to see these guys. In hindsight, I think this show was more for my dad than for me; I mean, I liked “China Grove,” but I wasn’t really familiar with much of the rest of their stuff. It was still a good time, though.
  2. Genesis, “I Can’t Dance”: We saw Genesis on the tour for the We Can’t Dance album down in Dallas, TX. I remember us trying to walk to the stadium where the show was held, then deciding it would work better to drive ’cause it was just too damn far.
  3. Eric Clapton, “Stop Breakin’ Down Blues”: We caught Clapton on the tour for Me and Mr. Johnson, where he did a bunch of old Robert Johnson tunes. Billy Preston played keyboards on the album and the tour. It was pretty fantastic.
  4. John Mellencamp, “Rain On The Scarecrow”: Mellencamp was touring for his greatest hits album when we caught him. He did a little acoustic set in the middle of the show, and this was one of the songs they played during that part.
  5. The Rolling Stones, “Honky Tonk Women”: Caught them in Norman when I was in high school. Nearly got crushed trying to get to our seats by the press of drunk Boomers. Good times.
  6. ZZ Top, “Sharp Dressed Man”: Dusty Hills, the bass player, just passed away last week. These guys put on a damn good show.
  7. Crosby, Stills, & Nash, “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes”: Caught them at the Civic Center Auditorium in Oklahoma City back in high school. These guys can harmonize, and Stephen Stills may be one of the best guitar players I’ve ever seen, hands down.
  8. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, “Don’t Do Me Like That”: Tom Petty was one of my favorite artists growing up. I only had a couple of his albums when he went on the Into the Great Wide Open tour, but we managed to get front row center tickets to the show. I sang along at the top of my lungs to every song, and Tom Petty gave me his guitar pick at the end of the show. Just awesome.
  9. Chicago, “I’m A Man”: Now, I haven’t ever seen Chicago in concert. Not sure I wanna see a Terry Kath-less Chicago anyway. But I know they’re one of my dad’s favorite bands, and I know he saw them back in the ’70s, so i really couldn’t resist putting at least one Chicago song on the list.
  10. The Beatles, “Norwegian Wood”: Again, I’ve obviously never seen the Beatles in concert. They were done a good decade before I came along. But we grew up listening to them. Dad and I used to go see a Beatles cover band called Tribute 1964 every time they rolled into Norman (which, when I was in high school, was an annual occurrence). I would have been remiss in not putting a Beatles song on this list, and I know dad likes to play this one on the guitar.

Tunes!

If you’re like me – and you should all be so lucky – then writing is a process that involves music.  Lots of music.  But not just any music!  No, you must listen to specific songs or specific styles to help set the mood for your protagonist’s adventures.  Or misadventures.  Or what have you.

I have a constantly-evolving playlist on my phone of the songs I listen to while writing.  Some are on there because they fit a specific scene, while others are more about describing the characters or the mood.  The following playlist was developed while I was writing The Invisible Crown and another novel that will appear later in the series, tentatively called Death and the Dame (that one’s a love story.  Sort of).

1. Anita Kelsey, “Sway”: There have been times I’ve just written to the Dark City Soundtrack.  This is still one of my favorite songs off that collection.

2. Sting, “Perfect Love…Gone Wrong”: On there because of the smoky, steamy city jazz feel, and also the extended metaphor where Sting is a disgruntled dog amuses me to no end.

3. John Mellencamp, “The Full Catastrophe”: Perfect summation of my protagonist, Eddie Hazzard.  His life is a bit of a rolling catastrophe, and there is a minor chance he was accidentally loving your wife while you were loving his.

4. Soul Coughing, “Fully Retractable”: One that’s on there for tone/mood.  There’s a dark undercurrent, a sinister feel to this song that’s just really fitting.

5. Muddy Waters, “Rolling Stone”: Life in a blues song always sounds like it sucks.  I imagine Eddie’s life is much the same way.

6. Bob Dylan, “What Was It You Wanted”: Either the narrator is stuck in a world that makes no sense, or the guy took a shot to the head.  Either way, a Dylan song is a must-have on pretty much any playlist I put together.

7. Gorillaz, “M1A1”: Fight scene song!  Love the energy, the staccato burst of the snare, the spiky guitars…great soundtrack to a fistfight.

8. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, “Red Right Hand”: Another mood setter.  Creepy, dark alley vibe that I dig.

9. EL VY, “Happiness, Missouri”: Like I said, a lot of songs I stick on these for the general mood they set.  This one fits with the general feel of the city of Arcadia: dark, slightly mysterious, vaguely threatening and sinister.

10. Arcade Fire, “My Body is a Cage”: The contemplative, protagonist considers his actions and his destiny before launching into the story’s climactic scene song.  Love the build of it, the sense of determination and all that.

11. The Dead Weather, “Hustle and Cuss”: Basically the Eddie Hazzard theme song.  He has to be out there hustling, working his tail off, because his enemies are always a few steps ahead of him.  And cussing…well, you have to express your frustration somehow.

12. David Gray, “Dead in the Water”: While The Invisible Crown might be the first of Eddie Hazzard’s cases, it certainly won’t be the last.  I’ve got three other novels already written in the series, I’ve started working on the fifth novel, and I have plans for the sixth.  The core idea for the sixth book came from a short story I wrote a couple years back about Eddie and a particularly disturbing case and a mis-remembering of a lyric from this song.  Expect to see that book in…um…2022 or so, maybe?  I dunno.

13. Adele, “Rumor Has It”: A private detective works with whatever information he can get.  Sometimes, that information is merely rumors.  Sometimes, those rumors turn out to be true.

14. Tom Waits, “Way Down in a Hole”: Tom Waits sounds too ludicrous to even be one of my characters, and I have one antagonist who’s a head in a jar named The Fish.  Honestly, when developing characters, I just ask myself, “What would Tom Waits do?” and go from there.  It’s served me pretty well so far.

15. Modest Mouse, “Bukowski”: This always struck me as driving music, the sort of thing you’d hear on the soundtrack if TIC was turned into a movie/TV series and they had a scene of him driving from the office to an informant or chasing down a lead.

That’s my playlist!  What do you listen to when you’re writing?