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Thursday, 13 October 2011

Music and Lyrics

Paula's Rawsthorne's blog about ebooks with soundtracks got me thinking about the relationship between words and music. They go together like, well, music and lyrics, don't they? Or is music disruptive to the reading process? Do you like to listen to music while you read or write, if so what kind of music? Is it whatever happens to randomly come onto your radio or mp3 player? Or do you have particular music you like to listen to whilst reading/writing particular books? Do you have play-lists for specific books, even? After all, film soundtracks have long proven effective, practically essential, tools in capturing and enhancing the atmosphere of a story, so why can't songs/music do the same for books?

Some books feature music heavily in the narrative itself. Nick Hornby's High Fidelity is centred around the playlists of its protagonist, and how the songs reflect different moments in his life. And likewise, many songs are based on novels - Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush; Moon Over Bourbon Street (Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles) by Sting; Romeo and Juliet by Dire Straits, Love Story (also Romeo and Juliet) by Taylor Swift.
But while music can enhance and inspire our books, and likewise many lyrics are inspired by novels, you'll notice that lyrics themselves rarely feature in novels. Writers beware! There is a reason for this. It's because record companies impose hefty fees for inclusion of their lyrics - a fact I was totally unaware of till my fellow Edgars gave me a heads up - thank you! I had wanted to include four words from "It's Raining Men" in my debut novel, Someone Else's Life, for which the record company were going to charge me over £600! Song titles, however, are fair game, so I'll stick to those in future!

Stephanie Meyer says she can't write without music, and has compiled a playlist of "music I hear in my head while I read the book", consisting of:
1. "Why Does it Always Rain on Me?" — Travis
2. "Creep" [radio edit] — Radiohead
3. "In My Place" — Coldplay
4. "I'm Not Okay (I Promise)" [video edit] — My Chemical Romance
5. "With You" [reanimation remix] — Linkin Park
6. "By Myself" — Linkin Park
7. "Dreaming" — OMD
8. "Please Forgive Me" — David Gray
9. "Here With Me" — Dido
10. "Time is Running Out" — Muse
11. "Tremble for My Beloved" — Collective Soul
12. "Dreams" — The Cranberries
13. "Lullaby (Goodnight, My Angel)" — Billy Joel

I wonder if her readers would all agree? Or come up with any alternatives?
What playlists would you choose for your favourite book? It would be interesting to compare what different people choose for the same book, so I'd love to hear your suggestions, either for your own favourite book or (to compare) how about Twilight? Romeo & Juliet? The Hunger Games?
I'd love to hear what you come up with.

Someone Else's Life
 will be published by Simon & Schuster in the UK and Delacorte Press in the US & Canada in February 2012.

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