Music (and Pictures) To Write To: All Scotland Edition

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If my math is correct, then as I post this it is a little less than 18 hours until the calendar flips over on September 18th, 2014 in Scotland, otherwise known as the date of the Independence Referendum.

I know exactly where I was one year ago, because I was there, in Scotland. To be specific, on the 18th of September, I woke up in the village of Kenmore, had lunch in Pitlochry, zipped by the Cairngorms, and ate dinner beside the River Ness. It was a helluva trip, one that will leave a lasting impact on myself and by proxy my writing for years to come.

So to mark the occasion, I thought I’d do a Scotland-themed MtWt. And then I thought I’d add some pictures. And then I realized I wouldn’t want to share just one song, so I’m going to go freaking nuts and share a bunch. And also pictures (taken by me, so excuse any lapse in quality).

First up, a classic, Loch Lomond as performed by Scottish folk legends The Corries

Loch Lomond, copyright Z.T. Burian

Loch Lomond

Next, one of my favorite artists, who almost always sings in a language I can’t understand but I adore anyways, Julie Fowlis. This video has a nice intro, and it’s a live performance. With a baby. Just watch it.

The Isle of Mull from Iona

The Isle of Mull from Iona

On to one of my favorite bands, not just from Scotland but from anywhere, Frightened Rabbit. I have had their album Midnight Organ Fight on repeat some days, and still can’t get enough of it.

Holyrood

Holyrood

For something completely different, here’s my favorite Mogwai tune.

And last, because I can’t resist, and because I absolutely love this song (not ironically), The Proclaimers.

Kenmore in the morning

Kenmore in the morning

Edinburgh in the evening

Edinburgh in the evening

Collies!

Collies!

My sister and me and Edinburgh Castle

My sister and me and Edinburgh Castle

I have thousands more pictures (not hyperbole), but I’m wearing out my welcome I think. Scotland has influenced my writing through the music above, and the places I visited. Old Town Edinburgh was my model for Ganton in Gone To Wonder. Celtic and gaelic imagery abounds in my work. But I could never do the place justice, in pictures or words.

I’m American, so what goes down the 18th is none of my damn business. No matter the result, I hope Scotland becomes an even more impressive place, and I wish the people there success. If you’ve never been there, I hope you visit someday. You might just be inspired to write.

Music To Write To: “Switzerland”

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Hope you’re enjoying this Tuesday, or should I say, this iTuesday? I hope someone makes an app that warns you when a street magician is taking your watch off without you noticing. It could devastate the street magician industry!

Anywho, here’s some music. “Switzerland” by The Last Bison is an excellent song that I bumped into the other day and has already made it’s way into my retinue of writing music.

Music To Write To: “Ekki múkk”

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One of my favorite things about Sigur Rós is how much they leave their music open for interpretation. The ethereal quality can lend itself to be an accompaniment for nearly any genre, story, or emotional state. It makes them ideal music for the writer looking for mood music to help the writing process, and makes them a go to for me for so many projects.

For a different look at Ekki múkk, check out this music video, featuring Littlefinger himself Aidan Gillen and Shirley Collins. A warning, though: this video might break you.

Music To Write To: “Alone”

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Well, this has been a shitty week. There’s not much an individual can do to change things. Ultimately, we’ve got control of our own thoughts and not much else. When we do get a chance, we’ve got to step up and do our best. Andrew and I made a wager this week, which we hope will give a little back.

And there’s also the ever-present hope that, through writing, we may affect the world, even if it is just to entertain for a short while.

Please enjoy this week’s Music To Write To, a song I first heard on The Way Way Back and which has become a regular in my repertoire of music to listen to while writing. It reminds me during the lonely process that writing can be, I am never truly alone.

Music To Write To: Sweet Little Thing

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Sometimes I wish that I were in my late 20s during the heyday of the alt-country scene. The time when bands like Uncle Tupelo were making their mark on the new form of music. Before they broke up into the much less alt-country Wilco and Son Volt.

There are still alt-country bands around, though. And one of those bands is Lucero. They have the same low and gritty vocals as Uncle Tupelo (although the lead singer claims never to have heard of Tupelo before they started making music). What sets them apart from Uncle Tupelo is their lyrics and instrumentals. Both are showcased in Sweet Little Thing. It’s a story of a young man heartbroken over the love that he just can not have.

It’s a love song. But it’s a love song with the longing and remorse of early blues, with a touch of Van Morrison. It’s a song worth listening to if you are trying to find some inspiration for that love story in your book that just won’t click. Or if you’re just looking for a great song about longing and loss.

 

Music To Write To: Gone To Wonder Edition 3

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Today’s MtWt is a song that routinely appears in the ‘soundtracks’ I assemble for my various projects. It is a song that resonates with me, clearly. From their album Ganging Up On The Sun, it’s Guster’s ‘Lightning Rod’.

Actually a lot of Guster songs end up on my playlists. Particularly, ‘Empire State’, ‘Hang On’, ‘Keep It Together’, ‘Come Downstairs And Say Hello’ (which was freaking incredible live with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra!), and ‘Architects and Engineers’. These songs line up with characters and themes in my works like few others can. ‘Lightning Rod’ feels like a very lonely song. It’s an odds-stacked-against-you, back-to-the-wall, facing-the-storm-alone moment that fits perfectly the journey of my main character, Wendy Danek.

Gone To Wonder Episode One: Absent Hero is coming soon. Later this week I hope to share the cover art. In the meantime, enjoy the tunes.