Influencing Songs

I’ve said before how I collect songs as a sort of emotional personality profile, or as emotional plot-points in a novel.

Sometimes those emotional plot points turn the song on its head.

This one for example:

It’s a great story-song on its own (I don’t know enough about music to know objectively if it’s a great song, but it’s a good storyteller for sure), but the mash-up of hearing it while working on my 2010 NaNoWriMo novel gave it a really vicious, twisted angle.  That is, in the Shadow Swan novel, the man singing this song is– put delicately– not the one who was dumped.

He abandoned the girl, and the song-moment (No. He doesn’t actually sing to her; this is the idea of the song being a plot-point) is when he tells her how horribly she treated him and how lucky he is to still have the heart left to seek out a true sweetheart.

I get a delicious set of the creeps now whenever I hear the song– this guy (not Aiken, of course. I don’t know anything about him), his name’s Raquile, is a master manipulator.  Way too good at what he does.

This is the whole soundtrack for Shadow Swan if you just want something to listen to sometime. It’s almost four hours long. Yeah. I’ve been collecting all year.

And the last dozen additions aren’t in chronological order– they were added to hang onto them, but I haven’t detail-worked my soundtracks since last summer.  I still listen to them though.

Could be why I don’t have a consistent drive to finish it: The story is told in my head over and over again, so I’m satiated.

But that theory doesn’t work either– the more I listen the clearer the story crystallizes, and the hungrier I get to work on it.

A less spectacular song but still very influential in one of my stories is Sweet Betsy from Pike.

Go ahead and laugh.

There is a line part way through the song where everything has tanked and her husband/lover Ike (depending on your version) has announced he’s giving up and going home.

The alkali desert was burning and bare.
And lke cried in fear, we are lost, I declare!
My dear old Pike country, I’ll go back to you.
Said Betsy, You’ll go by yourself if you do.

My kids have this in one of their song collections, and that last line gives me goosebumps.

There’s just something about a woman (anyone, really) saying ‘This needs so much to be done I’ll do it alone.’

It’s a key moment in Lindorm when a rather mousey character calls out her husband’s cowardice/wishy-washy and brings in the cavalry.

And I don’t even like the song all that much, but (as in so many inspiring instances) the perfect phrase makes all the connections.

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