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Playlist: Remember

September 9, 2012

Playlists are often the first to guide my story’s direction, and I make them constantly. In the case of my current novel, my playlist really surprised me and landed me smack dab in the middle of the Summer of Love, alongside the Apollo lunar missions, the release of Sgt. Pepper’s, and the Vietnam War. Who knew this is where I would end up? But here it is.

Be warned though, I don’t always choose the biggest hits because I like to feel as if I’m hearing the songs for the first time, as someone who lived during that time would.  And, though some songs on this list were released well into the 1970s, I like to think they were written in the 1960s and only released later.

I marvel at the power of these songs to hold me spellbound even after all these years. I hope they do the same for you.


Dance In The Smoke Argent Argent
California Dreamin’ The Mamas & the Papas If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears
Blinded By The Light Manfred Mann’s Earth Band The Roaring Silence
The Rain Song Led Zeppelin Houses of the Holy
Dreamin’ of You Bob Dylan The Bootleg Series, Vol. 8 Tell Tale Signs-Rare and Unreleased 1989-2006
Dancing Barefoot The Patti Smith Group Wave
Maggie May Rod Stewart Every Picture Tells A Story
Light My Fire The Doors The Doors
From the Beginning Emerson, Lake & Palmer Trilogy
Let it Grow Eric Clapton 461 Ocean Boulevard
Love Alive Heart Little Queen
Angel Jimi Hendrix Cry of Love
Love Reign O’er Me The Who Quadrophenia
Dance The Night Away Cream Disraeli Gears
Unknown Song Pink Floyd Zabriskie Point (Soundtrack for the Motion Picture)
Ohio Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young So Far
Heart Full Of Soul The Yardbirds Greatest Hits Volume 1: 1964- 1966
While My Guitar Gently Weeps The Beatles The Beatles (White Album) [Disc 1]
The Pusher Steppenwolf Steppenwolf
Alone Again Or Love Forever Changes
Which Will Nick Drake Pink Moon
Woodstock Joni Mitchell Ladies of the Canyon
Scarborough Fair/Canticle Simon & Garfunkel The Graduate
Dust Fleetwood Mac Bare Trees
Stranger In a Strange Land The Byrds Turn! Turn! Turn!
Seagull Bad Company Bad Company
The Needle And The Damage Done Neil Young Harvest
Gimme Shelter The Rolling Stones Let It Bleed
Song to the Siren Tim Buckley Starsailor

To listen to this playlist on You Tube, click the linky, ‘Remember.’

Do you make playlists for your stories? And, what comes first: The story or the playlist? Or a little of both?

  1. September 9, 2012 1:58 pm

    I don’t make playlists for my stories, but what I do when I write is listen to specific kinds of music that are somewhat genre-appropriate. When I work on my novel–an eastern fantasy piece–it’s always soundtracks from Chinese martial arts films. If I’m messing around with more traditional fantasy, it’s soundtracks from The Lord of the Rings, Conan the Barbarian, as well as other recordings with western fantasy flavor. If the writing is more science fiction or has some sort of cosmic slant, I’ll whip out some electronic space music 🙂

    • September 10, 2012 6:31 pm

      I’ve found that my choice of music is often guided by the story as well, but for me it occasionally works in reverse–where a song will guide me to a story!
      Movie soundtracks are great, though I seem drawn to ones that have a stronger beat. The Matrix and Tron soundtracks are on heavy rotation, as is E.S. Posthumus, which sounds like it should be a movie.

  2. September 9, 2012 3:35 pm

    Very nice list…I’m a big classic rock fan, in fact, the basis of my novel is rock ‘n roll, and I must say, you have excellent taste!

    When you say you’re novel’s playlist, what do you mean exactly? Almost like your story’s soundtrack? Do the songs come up in the story?

    That being said, I do have a playlist for my book. I’m still working on perfecting it. It spans the time period in which the story is set, and also reflects the greater themes, etc.

    I see a lot of Crosby, Stills, Nash (and Young!) songs up there…fabulous choices. I saw all four live back ’02. They still got it.

    I really love what you did with this post. 🙂

    • September 10, 2012 6:42 pm

      So cool that we like the same music!
      To your question, my novels all have a playlist, which is the music that I listen to when I think about them. I’ll start by making playlists for the various characters, and then distill that into a playlist for the entire story. I admit, it’s a weird process, but putting the playlist together seems to condition my subconscious (what I call my Muse) to create the story that fits around the playlist. The playlist changes as I find new songs and remove songs that don’t fit anymore, and now that I’m revising, I use the playlist to bounce my new ideas off of. If the scene still fits the playlist and the mood of the novel it’s a keeper.

      Like I said, I know, it’s a strange way to work, but I think the most important thing is that it does work! Songs are like touchstones for my story.

      There are a few songs in the novel (Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door is one) but they’re not even on this playlist! I think it’s because I’ve OD ed on those and need to listen to something new!
      I should probably do a blog post about this sometime. 🙂

      I’m intrigued by your rock’n’roll novel!

      • September 12, 2012 8:05 am

        That sounds like a great strategy! I do the same sort of thing. I have songs that make me think of my novel as well. And yes, I tend to listen to them before writing, during writing, after writing…I think it helps set the tone of what I’m working on.

        Do you include the lyrics in your novel (I’m yet to figure out the copyright issues with that), but in least in my drafts right now, I do include them.

        I so glad you’re intrigued by my novel 🙂 I’ve actually considered serializing it on my blog. I’m still hesitant though…I have a writing friend whose been urging me to do it, but I’m still so scared! It’s good to know that someone is interested though.

        • September 12, 2012 5:44 pm

          I have one scene where one of my characters sings the words to the song, (just the first three lines) so the lyrics are part of the novel. I have no idea how that works in terms of copyright, though! Looks like I have some research to do before I consider publication.

          I know how scary it is to put stuff up, and getting past that is one of the reasons I’m doing this blog. It has really helped! Keep writing, keep blogging, and one day perhaps I’ll get a peek at that story of yours. 🙂

  3. September 9, 2012 5:36 pm

    As a survivor of the Summer of Love, I agree with Katherine. You do have great taste!

    I don’t make playlists, but I do listen to particular genres depending on what I’m writing. I’ve discovered fantastic streaming music stations. My favorite is SomaFM out of San Francisco. Their stations span the map of music.

    When I’m writing the complex stuff, I usually go with Drone Zone. Electronic, no lyrics. (Lyrics distract me when I’m trying to concentrate.) But, when I’m writing fun scenes with sassy characters I crank Underground 80s. The harmless lyrics and rowdy dance rhythms charge me up and keep me moving to the end of the scene.

    Always a pleasure to see your blog.

    • September 10, 2012 6:48 pm

      I am always looking for new streaming stations, so thanks for the tip!
      I use Spotify to scope out new music, but when I’m writing I’m very particular about what I’m listening to, so I end up making playlists.
      I must check out the Underground 80’s ! And Drone Zone? Sign me up. 🙂

      Glad you like the list! The 60’s must have been a fun and interesting time to grow up.

  4. Prue permalink
    September 10, 2012 3:49 am

    Yep. Great taste! 🙂
    I’m with Mike on not making playlists but listening to things which seem to suit the overall feel of what I write.
    Whatever works for you, go for it! As writers we need all the help we can get 🙂

    • September 10, 2012 6:51 pm

      In some ways, making playlists to get words felt a little bit like cheating, as if not being able to write much without music made me less of a writer. I can see now that it’s just how I’m wired, no right or no wrong way to do this, just the way that makes me happy.

      It’s good to see that people like my list. This is one of my more accessible playlists– a lot of what I listen to is downright weird. But, it gets me words. 🙂

  5. September 10, 2012 6:36 pm

    WOW!!! I never thought of making playlists. I can see how the songs can bring forth memories and feelings :).

    • September 10, 2012 6:54 pm

      You have to try it! With music, I can really lose myself in my words, and writing becomes almost–to use a 60’s concept– transcendental.

  6. T.F.Walsh permalink
    September 11, 2012 12:16 am

    I have a list like that this – those songs always work for me. Thanks for sharing yours… am going to check them out now.

    • September 12, 2012 5:46 pm

      I always like to hear what music other writers listen to, so I thought it only fair to share mine. I’m glad you like my list!

  7. September 11, 2012 3:50 pm

    I love 70s music. 🙂

    • September 12, 2012 5:48 pm

      I’m an 80s girl myself, so when these songs started showing up on my favorites list I knew something was up. Who knew? Now part of my story is set in the sixties and seventies!

  8. September 11, 2012 7:55 pm

    I love the oldies that you have in the playlist. Music was so special and idiosyncratic back in the day. Not like now where much of it seems to be written and produced by committee and it all end up sounding over-processed (like too much bleach in hair! lol).
    Great post! 🙂

    • September 12, 2012 5:53 pm

      So very true. Back then guys and gals could really sing. Now anybody can have their voice sent through a computer and be perfectly on key, and keep recording over and over until it’s perfect.
      What fun is that?!

      Welcome to A Scenic Route, lexacain! 🙂

  9. September 12, 2012 4:17 pm

    I can’t write with music on b/c I sing to it and start typing the lyrics, lol. I don’t make playlists afterwards either but there are a lot of songs I’ll hear and remind me of what my “character” is going through . . . and of course that’s never based on what’s going on in my life;-)

    • September 12, 2012 6:01 pm

      Sometimes I sing when I’m editing. Really! On the good days anyway.

      I did wonder if I wasn’t stealing words from the lyrics when I write with music on, but when I switched to instrumentals there was no difference in my output. Maybe lyrics don’t distract me because they are so deep in my memory that I hardly notice them anymore.

      What’s interesting to me is how different writers tap into their creativity in different ways. Mine happens to be music–which it took me far too long to figure out …

  10. September 12, 2012 10:30 pm

    I love how you have a playlist. Music used to be such a big part of my life and I stopped playing and listening to it for some odd reason. I have playlist for my current WIP…mainly creepy circus music, giggling children and music boxes but I forget about it and jump into revision straight away and get lost in my own head and don’t hear anything else. Apparently I say hello 2 hours after someone has come in to check on me, oops. This post is a great reminder that I should definitely open myself up to it more because it really helps my writing and creates such a beautiful environment. Reminds me to enjoy the process of creating instead of stressing about it!

    • September 12, 2012 11:28 pm

      Music makes writing so much more fun for me, and I can’t imagine writing without it! It adds an element of emotion that I can’t seem to find otherwise, like a soundtrack for the movies in my head.
      For me writing to music is the complete experience, the right song, the right scene, and I’ll lose track of time …

      Creepy circus music and giggling children? That’s a story for sure! 🙂

  11. September 24, 2012 2:06 pm

    I definitely make playlists for my stories, in the case of Grove a song reminded me of a particular time in my life which melded with other artistic endeavors at the time to produce a novel idea. The playlist grew as I added songs that fit the mood of that time, or reminded me of certain characters. As I’ve edited I have dropped some songs and added others to reflect the changes in the novel. The things I’ve written since have developed playlists as I wrote and the events or atmosphere reminded me of a song. Sometimes I hear a song in a movie or on the radio that fits something I’ve written, and I make a note to add it to my playlist when I get home.

    I love this playlist, by the way. I once had a boyfriend who accused me of listening to “hippie protest music”…he wasn’t necessarily wrong. Everything I hear about your novel makes me want to read it that much more.

    • September 24, 2012 7:59 pm

      Hehe, that’s the idea, isn’t it? But, seriously, I’m excited to show it to you except that I really want to make my beginning a bit snappier before I do.

      One of the reasons I’m considering Nano again this year, even though I really should keep on revising, is because I’m already building my playlist! As the music plays, the characters begin to become more real. And then, it becomes hard not to start writing their story … 🙂

      It’s hard to say which comes first for me, the story or the playlist, as the both seem to evolve simultaneously.


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