The lyrics to some songs have helped my writing. Not copying the lyrics into a story, but using the poetry and tempo as inspiration that energized my next writing project.
For instance, I love the song from the Sopranos TV series – “Woke up this Morning” by A3. The beginning of the song features a spoken track:
And after three days of drinkin’ with Larry Love
I just get an inklin’ to go on home
So I’m walkin’ down Coldharbour Lane
Head hung low, three or four in the mornin’
The sun’s comin’ up and the birds are out singing
I let myself into my pad
Wind myself up that spiral staircase
An’ stretch out nice on the chesterfield
It goes on for a while before the refrain “Woke up this mornin’/Got yourself a gun.”
With the visual in my head of the man shuffling down the street just before sunrise and the moody rhythm in the background, I begin my story of this man getting shot in a drive-by on a warm summer Chicago morning. I can see the car low to the ground, the bass turned up and pulsing to the song’s refrain as it slowly and deliberately approaches. The left rear window slides down. The muzzle of a gun sparks in a bright red ring followed a millisecond later by smoke and sound. The man sitting at the bus stop, head hung low, slides off the bench. The car moves on down the street as the sun peeks over the liquor store sign. The birds stop singing.
Another song that I feel has a compelling story is “Streets of Philadelphia” sung by Bruce Springsteen:
I was bruised and battered and I couldn’t tell
What I felt
I was unrecognizable to myself
I saw my reflection in a window I didn’t know
My own face
Oh brother are you gonna leave me
On the streets of Philadelphia
Listening to the mournful refrain in the background, I can imagine a homeless man catching a glimpse of himself in a store window and realizing with startling clarity that he is unrecognizable to himself. And he suddenly can’t breathe, his heart filled with overwhelming regret and remorse. He falls to his knees and cries, his head bowed, his hands useless. He collapses onto the broken concrete.
What song or songs speak to you? Have you followed a song’s words and music into a place in your writing you have yet to explore? Did you allow your imagination to do the work, and maybe found a story in your head you didn’t even know was there?
As for me, I might also try three days of drinkin’….
The Oldest Living Middle-Aged Writer (aka Pat Childers) lives in Midwestern flyover country with her dogs. There have been reported sightings of her husband. In between innings of the Cubs game she works on her novel.