Music Feeds the Words

There are a few tunes that cause a deep melancholy to well up inside.  I’m not talking about sadness, although I think it’s related.  And melancholy isn’t quite the right word.  That overwhelming tide when I hear certain songs includes awe, reverence, a sense of connection to place, something beyond what some would label holy. Spiritual yes, religious, no.  I sense a recognition of something, that I’m at the same time unsure of.

Sometimes, if these songs catch me unaware, I break into sobs.  Sometimes the joy stops me in my tracks.  Sometimes all I can do is close my eyes and breathe.

But always, afterwards, I realize these emotions, whatever they are, comprise what I strive for in writing.  Can you imagine placing down words that, when read, give birth to these same reactions in the reader?  Oh, to be a writer like that.    That is a goal that makes the struggles to write worthwhile.  And occasionally I need to listen to these songs to remind me what I struggle for.

The songs that do this for me? Sometimes it’s the words, sometimes it’s an ageless melody, sometimes it’s a connection to history.  But for me, the list includes the traditional versions of ‘Scarborough Fair’ and ‘Greensleeves’, ‘The Sound of Taransay’, the voice of Lisa Gerard or Loreena Mckennit, songs by Ulali, Anonymous Four, and I’ll stop there before the post becomes nothing but a list of songs.  Oh, wait, there’s also songs like ‘One Tin Soldier’, ‘Where Have all the Flowers Gone’, and ‘Both Sides Now’, but I think those are because of the memories attached to the oldies.

And now I’m curious.  Does music impact your writing?  If so, what music stirs your soul to catch words?

Oops.  One more that I’m listening to right now: ‘The Mist Covered Mountains’.

11 thoughts on “Music Feeds the Words

  1. You have described so eloquently, something I’ve felt for all my life!

    Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Stings in C Major, Elégie Larghetto elegiaco

    “Pink Emerson Radio” by Kathleen Edwards

    “Dust” by Augustana

    “Amor Azul” by Tim Easton

    and lately, “Fear of the South” by Tin Hat Trio

    — just to name the few I can think of now. Thank you so much for reminding me!


  2. Oh, to be able to move an audience with words the way music does!

    Sometimes when I’m still formulating a story in my head or if I’m particularly stuck, I’ll make a soundtrack – songs that I feel fit the mood. If nothing else, it helps inspire me. Although, funnily enough, the songs that move me the way you have described above, are so moving on their own, that I couldn’t possibly write with them on in the background.

    The Piano Soundtrack – Michael Nyman
    Expecting to Fly – Neil Young
    Across the Universe – The Beatles
    Mozart’s Symphony No. 25 in G Minor feels just like the frenetic madness I feel when pumped about a new story or project.

    Of course, I’m sure there others too!

    – Margaret


  3. Margaret, what a great idea to create a soundtrack for each individual story. Oddly, I’ve never thought of that. Even though there are some songs I listen to that take me right back to specific works. I also find it interesting that you can write to words with lyrics. Sometimes I get distracted by the story in the song. Great music list, by the way.


  4. I like “Both Sides Now,” “Greensleeves,” and “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” too.

    I don’t listen to a whole lot of music while writing, but I am almost never without music while I paint. My fellow artists in the Tuesday night figure studio have named me the official playlist provider, since my eclectic choices seem to keep both artists and model happy. The studio monitor actually remarked, “I would pay you to put together playlists for me.” If I ever go blind I will turn to a life of singing and DJing. 🙂

    I often tear up while listening to “Little Green” and Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise (, and the Smashing Pumpkins’s “Mayonaise” always feels full of longing. I left all three of these songs off my painting studio playlists, because they make me feel too vulnerable in a public space.

    I’m off to look up all the songs mentioned!


  5. Pingback: Open Mic Friday! you talk: music and emotions | the Satsumabug blog

  6. Pingback: Open Mic Friday! you talk: music and emotions |

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