The Nat King Cole Inside My Head

I am obsessed with The Beatles, I adore Belle and Sebastian, I’ve seen They Might Be Giants five times in concert, and I can’t stop playing the new Fiona Apple CD… but Nat King Cole is the musical comfort food for my soul.

I have read a few biographies about him over the years, and as amazing of a life he had, it’s always hard for me to connect him to his voice. Frankly, his voice is so engrained into my own life, it is hard to think that it once even belonged to someone else, as strangely as that sounds. I don’t feel his struggles against racism in his career and his growth from jazz pianist to just a singer fronting a band in a studio, lost in the business of just singing singles hoping for a hit, when I listen to his music.

I hear my own life in his voice, in his performing, making each recording I adore something akin to a special gift. Continue reading

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Music and My Writing Brain

I first learned the power of music in my writing while I was an undergrad in college. At that time, I was working on a story and for some unexplained reason I had to listen to The Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky (This happens, now and then I get taken over by a certain “sound”). Anyway, so there I was in a writing class (it might have been a writing table, I don’t remember which) and I started to read the story… And I began to notice that the meter in my words mirrored Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies.

Yes, without realizing it, my character’s speech was actually set to music. I had to fight to control my giggles, now imagining my character on toes as he was speaking. I’m sure my reading began to seem ridiculous to the other writers there, but at that moment I knew I had a problem… and, of course, I knew I was going to have to rewrite the entire speech.

Well, since then I have figured out the potential impact music can have on my writing. While I have not let the cadence of a song take over a story again, certain artists and music became part of the creation process for me around different works.  Sometimes I use them to influence a mood I am hoping to create, sometimes they are just simply the soundtrack for the “world” I am “living” in. Here are five examples: Continue reading