I think songs are kind of like flash fiction: they capture and suspend a moment, story or emotion in a few minutes. Music helps with my writing sometimes because it can be a little like playing dress-ups: slipping into another person’s thoughts, or trying on different perspectives.
While I’m on a music-is-might kick, I want to discuss ‘Push’ by Matchbox Twenty. Those guys did a hell of a job because that song makes me ache for the fictional victim and aggressor. Vulnerable, angsty lyrics coupled with a raw sound. ‘I’m a little bit rusty…’ Well, that’s genius.
I don’t think ‘Push’ is suggesting that anger is the answer to any problems. Far from it. But it helps the willing listener understand the mindset of someone who has felt pushed around by life and wants to push back. If anything, to me this song suggests that we should be careful not to punish the people in our lives for personal baggage.
The great thing about a song is that it’s open to interpretation. If you don’t want to reconcile ‘Push’ with abuse, it can mean something else to you. Who hasn’t wondered whether or not they measure up to their own standards, or someone else’s? Who hasn’t felt doubt or insecurity, or like they’d like to shine despite their damage?
I could probably keep ranting and analyse this four-minute song for an hour, but I don’t want to take you (or your attention) for granted. 😉 So right, yes, back to my main point: songs can really help provide inspiration for writing stories because they can help you get in a particular mood for a given scene, or assist in developing characters. I like to listen to music while I think about a story, but rarely play it while I’m actually writing, because then I get distracted. I don’t want to have someone else’s lyrics in mind when I’m trying to listen to my characters. I know other people work differently, but I just thought I’d share what works for me. Please feel free to comment about your favourite song, what it means to you, or how you use music for your writing!