Monday, March 24, 2008

Theme Songs: Drift Away

"Day after day I'm more confused,/but I look for the light through the pouring rain./You know that's a game I hate to lose./I'm feeling the strain./Now ain't that a shame."--Mentor Williams, Steppenwolf

I identify with music. And I identify with words.

Making any leaps of judgment here? Okay, good; I'll assume we're all on the same page.

I have begun compiling a list--playlist--of theme songs. Songs that are already floating around in the void. So far they mostly fall into the "no duh it's that one" column. However a couple have really surprised me. A phenomenon in itself quite shocking since I'm talking about me choosing something to be associated with something that I made up.... Not a strangity that I think I can explain.

Steppenwolf is an old band, and they have an old song most everyone has heard. The "Give me the beat boys to free my soul, I want to get lost in the rock and roll" song. It's called "Drift Away". It's a pretty feel good, ephemeral song. Almost sad, really. Not high tempo, blood and guts rock and roll. More classicky, more artistic.

I was just listening to it and reading Jenny's blog about revision, and thinking about the revision that I've been putting off on "Taking Bluegrass". And I associated "Drift Away" with "Taking Bluegrass". It felt right. It didn't think right; my intellect said "NO! NOT HARD CORE ENOUGH! TOO MUCH OF A SOFTY SONG! GAH! BRIGHT AND SUNNY FEEL GOOD! BAD BAD! CROSS FINGERS! BACK! HISS!"

But then I listened to the lyrics, real close. And the intellect started to agree with the instinct.

So all the other songs on my playlist are the theme songs of characters. But this one is for a short story. Or, more specifically, for my protagonist's mindset. Not for the character, because this is a transitional point in her life and she was never this way before and won't be again later on. So it's all very cool.

It occurs to me now, though, that the revision which "Drift Away" associates with is one most of my readers won't be familiar with.... So...yeah, make like a door and be open [minded].


Jenny said...

Wow, this post actually made sense to me.

I make soundtracks for my novels. Generally a lyric triggers an image and then I start brainstorming around that...eventually leading to a full blown story.

Haven't done it for individual characters though.

Mishell said...

I think you've got a great idea going. When I first decided to fumble around with this writing thing, I decided that one of my goals would be to write music--not the notes and lyrics, but the feelings the music gave me. I wanted to incorporate tempo and timbre into the piece, as well a bunch of other music stuff that would be difficult to traslate to story. Basically, I would sit a listen to a piece of music, and let it dictate my story to me. Now, I haven't yet had success, but I'm not gonna quit trying. Of course, most of my musical inspiratons of this type are of the instrumental variety.

Debbie said...

Good topic, Whit. But, um, Drift Away was recorded by the one-hit wonders, Dobie Gray, not Steppenwolf. I even looked at live albums to see if they did it in concert as a goof, but no. Definitely not a Steppenwolf kind of song.

Anyway, the idea of soundtracks for novels is one I use too. I try to listen to the kind of music my characters would listen to. Good excuse to expand the collection. If I don't need the music to help set mood, then I'll listen to instrumental things.

I have done the brainstorming from lyrics to create a story. Nothing that's made it to publication, but it does get the juices going. The last time I remember writing based on an instrumental piece was in high school. The teacher played the William Tell Overture and told us to write about anything but the Lone Ranger. Almost impossible so he played something else.

Oh, and thanks a bunch because now Drift Away is going to stick in my head all day.

Oz, the Mad said...

There are worse songs to get stuck in yer head.

"I'm a Barbie Girl,/ in a Barbie world..."

I feel cruel.

Number thirty.

Debbie said...

I do stand corrected, but it's still not a Steppenwolf-type song. I'm sad for them that they recorded it.