This weekend, The Red Pen and I attended a Vertical Horizon concert. It took place in a Chicago club The Wire, and even though the crowd was small, the performers were big. They performed like they were playing for a house of tens of thousands.
It was exciting and entertaining. The songwriter, lead singer, and guitar player Matt Scannell enlightened the audience with what had inspired him to write many of his songs. For me, this is as powerful as being swept away with the music. Songwriting and book writing are very similar, but the songwriter lets you hear the music. The book writers hope you can hear the meter in their words. Matt’s voice, full of inflection and emotion, leads you on a journey. I depend on your eyes and the words on the page to take you on mine.
There are many powerful songwriters out there right now in a variety of genres, and these artists’ songs can turn your bad day into a good one, ease your broken heart, or simply make you dance. Storytellers like Matt, Glen Phillips (solo career and Toad the Wet Sprocket) Jason Wade (Lifehouse), Mike Shinoda (Linkin Park), and Emerson Hart (solo career and Tonic) will take you on a personal journey. They will tell you a story. It’s there; all you have to do is listen.
I gather inspiration from music. I listened to Lifehouse’s Smoke and Mirrors CD when I wrote about Mia and Burt’s first love affair. It set the mood. It took me away from my computer and to the shell of the burned out house where Burt listened to Mia tell her story about her misty mother. Most times I write in silence. But there are times - like when I need to feel the turmoil in Ted’s mixed up sense of heroics – when I listen to a lot of different songs to take me there and back.
The two most recent Cin Fin-Lathen novels, The Wages of Cin and the coming Unforgivable Cin: An Opera in Three Acts, were inspired by music - two very different types of music. In The Wages of Cin, I took my concert-going and performing experiences to create a mystery based on this world. Unforgivable Cin: An Opera in Three Acts takes you into the tragic and sometimes comedic world of opera. My main character goes through quite a transformation in this book. And instead of her life ending in an operatic tragedy, she will come out stronger, break the bonds of convention, and become the woman she was always meant to be.
What music inspires you? Are you a country music aficionado or do your tastes take you into Rap, Jazz, Blues, Classical or Rock? I’m always looking for new and old bands to listen to. Post your favorite bands and songs. I’ll take a listen and see where your music takes me. Until then, I’ll leave you with Matt Scannell’s words from “Consolation”: “Let’s just sit a while and watch the cars go by. Maybe save the talking for another time…”
P.S. Aaron the WebGuy here with a little addendum at the end linking you to the albums from all the bands featured in the post. Right click to open to a new tab if you want to stay on this page when you check out these band's works.