music writing list

I have my rituals when I write. A cup of tea or decaf coffee, and a little cookie, pastry, or toast with butter and jam to keep me company. Comfy pants, comfy shirt. No brasierre. Sometimes on chilly days, a blue and green plaid flannel robe that I’ve had for nearly fifteen years. Often no makeup.

Writing is about getting myself into a totally comfortable, unguarded zone. This requires ritual and often, some low grade self-hypnosis via music. I like to listen to music with headphones on. Something about the headphones muffles out other background noise.

For many years, I could ONLY write with MY music writing playlist. It is about 50 songs long, playing out to over 4 hours. I would hit play, and keep writing until the last song on the list played. That was a nice routine. I like moody, melodic music. Think moody like the songs on “Grey’s Anatomy,” think melodic like Moby or moody like Sugur Ros. This music is somewhat different than the music I like to listen to in the car or with friends.

In lieu of that playlist, I’ll write to Mozart’s Requiem. Mozart’s Requiem is really good with short story writing.

While I’m at it–what do you listen to while you write?  (Have we just created a new meme)?

What is my “writing playlist?” Here it is:

  1. I Drove All Night by Cyndy Lauper
  2. I Feel Love by Donna Summer
  3. Breakaway by Kelly Clarkson
  4. Kiss the Rain by Billie Meyers
  5. Don’t Say You Love Me by Erasure
  6. Book of Days by Enya
  7. Doot Doot by Freur
  8. Wake Me Up when September Comes by Green Day
  9. SoVery Hard to Go by Tower of Power
  10. Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper
  11. Dreams by Cranberries
  12. Total Eclipse of the Heart
  13. Beautiful Girl by INXS
  14. Moon River by Audrey Hepburn
  15. Only Time by Enya
  16. Alone in Kyoto by Air
  17. Return to INnocence by Enigma
  18. Don’t Wanna Talk about It by Indigo Girls
  19. Whiter Shade of Pale by Procol Harum
  20. The Moment I Said It by Imogen Heap
  21. Good Riddance by Green Day
  22. This Woman’s Work by Maxwell (or Kate Bush)
  23. Breathe Me by Sia
  24. Hurt by Johnny Cash
  25. Baba O’Riley by The Who
  26. Somewhere Only We Know by Keane
  27. Hide and Seek by Imogen Heap
  28. Such Great Heights by the Postal Service
  29. The Reason by Hoobastank
  30. Sweet Surrender by Sarah MacLachlan
  31. I’ll Be There by Erasure
  32. Come Sail Away by Styx
  33. Oh My Love by Martin L. Gore
  34. Breathe by Midge Ure
  35. Don’t Falter by Mint Royale
  36. Mr. Brightside by The Killers
  37. The District Sleeps Alone by The Postal Service
  38. Somebody Told Me by The Killers
  39. In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel
  40. Go by Moby
  41. By This River by Martin L. Gore
  42. Love of Strings by Moby
  43. Lo Boob Oscillator by Stereolab
  44. Porcelain by Moby
  45. Halcyon On On by Orbital
  46. Adagio for Strings by DJ Tiesto
  47. Victorious by DJ Tiesto
  48. Goodnight and Go by Imogen Heap
  49. Sit Down by James
  50. Sway by Bic Runga
  51. The Water is Wide by The Cowboy Junkies


Filed under Writing

4 responses to “music writing list

  1. Rituals: I have a particular mug I like drinking out of. Pajamas are always comfy. Do you prefer writing at a certain time of day?

    I love The Killers, Indigo Girls, Kate Bush, Sarah MacLachlan, Cranberries–I could go on and on but I’ll just say this is a good list. I’m also hooked on Fiona Apple, Muse, Tori Amos, Joni Mitchell, and various jazz artists. I find them all good for my freewriting process.

    Classical music is helpful when I’m trying to concentrate on a particular scene or voice. Mozart’s Piano Concerto in A is one of my favorites!

  2. mel

    Glad to see Cyndi Lauper (always been a big fan, “She’s So Unusual” is one of the first albums I ever bought) and Audrey Hepburn’s version of “Moon River.”

  3. I tend to gravitate to music that would either be playing the background, or to some kind of music that evokes the mood I’m going for. At Clarion West I wrote about five pages (in which a character sees Lester Young perform and chats with him) listening to a short Lester Young sample on a loop. (It was about 45 second long.) I followed that up with a couple of Duke Ellington discs, some Jelly Roll Morton, and some Steve Reich (the minimalist composer).

    My used-often list includes Tori Amos, The Orb, Sigur Ros, Belle & Sebastian, Pete Namlook, John Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, Bill Frisell, MMW (Medeski, Martin & Wood), Nine Inch Nails, 3rd Line Butterfly, Hwang Shin Hae Band, Han Young Ae (the last three being Korean acts), Ralph Stanley, The Harry Smith Anthology of American folk music, Stereolab, Chandra Shiva (and other random techno mix CDs by DJs like Tiesto), Elliot Smith, Yo La Tengo… and sometimes, it’s totally different stuff. As for composers, I really dislike Mozart but I get a lot from Bach, Webern, and Stravinsky when I am writing. Especially Bach & Stravinsky… The Rite of Spring gets use in scenes of strong drama, whereas Bach is something that gets my mind thinking in terms of mechanism and clockwork wonder.

  4. I don’t listen to music anymore while I write, but when i did, it was usually everything Air (I think I have six or seven of their CDs), Yo La Tengo, Sigur Ros, Zero Seven, The Notwist and some classical music. Now I find silence in a quiet room works better for me.

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