I love music: cheesy 1980s anthems, chamber, jazz, classic rock and roll, baroque, bachata, cabaret, chansons, big band, electro swing, disco, broadway, pop, American songbook, country, and styles I have yet to discover (including noir rock … thanks Cate!). To riff off the famous quote by Lily Bollinger, “I listen to music when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I listen to it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory.” Music can transform our moods, lift our spirits, and soothe our souls.
So, I asked my fellow Miss Demeanors what they like to listen to and why. I, for one, have some music to add to my playlists.
Paula: “Finishing the Hat” from Sunday in the Park with George. A song about creativity, and the creative process, and the artist’s obsession with making art. In short: Why we stay alone in a room and do what we do even when our friends and family and a whole world is out there beckoning….
Cate: Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” is the noir rock anthem for psychological thriller writers this summer, IMHO. And noir rock is a thing now. 🙂
Connie: I love the question. Music forms the backdrop for our lives. We love the music we grew up with, sang along with, and fell in love to (how’s that for not ending sentences with prepositions?). It’s our heart music, like our native tongue. When my mom was in memory care and no longer talking, she could still sing along with some of the Big Band songs of her childhood and “Jesus Loves Me.” My heart music is R&B. My father was an engineer and bought a whole load of albums to use in testing a sound system. I listened to them endlessly, long before I knew anything about music. So my music is still classic R&B–and Gospel.
Tracee: What about a song makes it so good? Who knows! I think it is the magic of the moment. When you first heard it, and the time of life (or of day). I have albums recommended by friends that I know I will love but I need to listen to them ‘at the right time’….. that dark album won’t fly when I’m at the gym! David Bowie’s “Cat People/Putting out Fire” appealed to me in the moment in the days after the recent presidential election. Probably not his original intention but now I can’t sever the connection.
Robin: Oh wow, Tracee, that song has been stuck in my head for over a week and I couldn’t remember what movie it was from. Thank you! I’ll amend my original answer. I’m a big fan of pop music, one hit wonders, show tunes, and really any kind of music. The initial draw for me is usually melody and tempo. The common theme in all of my favorites is empowerment, in some form or other. It wasn’t a conscious decision, it’s something someone else pointed out to me after listening to a playlist I put together. It has songs like “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen, “Holding Out For A Hero” by Bonnie Tyler (the Glee version, fight me), “The Hard Way” by Mary Chapin Carpenter, and “Long Way Around.”
Michele: I’m a child of the sixties and am moved often by lyrics that reflect the world around us. The lyrics of “Sounds of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel are a good example and still ring true today. I walked back from the altar when I was in a wedding party singing with the others “Leaving on a Jet Plane.”
The other thing I enjoy in lyrics is when the song tells a story (no surprise from a fiction writer, right?) “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her” by Mary Chapin Carpenter was a great one. I still remember eating at my favorite breakfast joint while it played and the entire wait-staff would pause to join in and sing the title line.
Alexia: I tried to think of some profound comment about the power of music, especially given that my main character is a professional musician, but, sometimes profound is overrated and simple is the way to go. For me, it boils down to this: my favorite songs either make me smile/dance or keep me from giving in to the urge to throw something. (I’d say it keeps me from giving into the urge to throttle or punch someone but I’m actually a non-violent person who channels her anger into her fiction. Punching people is wrong. So is throttling them, except on paper. Think I need to go listen to some music.)
Some of my favorites: “Happy, Uptown Funk,” “Break Stuff,” “Mack the Knife,” “Werewolves of London,” “Toccata &Fugue in D Minor,” and “The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme)” from Star Wars.
Alison: This is where I have to admit to listening to “Lapti Nek” on vinyl over and over until I had written down a phonetic version of the Huttese lyrics. And, yes, this was back in the day when one couldn’t just Google Sy Snootles.
Susan: I hope it’s not too late for me to throw in my random Elvis Presley memory. I went to see him in concert the day I graduated from high school. He was not in good shape. Only a year or so away from dying. I remember an incredible light show and they played that music from the movie 2001 and then he burst onto the stage and he was wearing a white sparkly jumpsuit. But then he started to sing and I was transfixed. He sang for hours. Beautiful.
As to songs that I like, I always liked the soundtrack to Oh Brother Where Art Thou. It’s sort of melancholy and moving and hummable. I also like all the songs that Panera plays on their soundtracks. I do a lot of writing at Panera, and I don’t pay that much attention to the lyrics, but I like the melody.