Loneliness. Redemption. Love.
Sound like a romance novel to you?
These are also recurring themes in country music. I’m from Texas and was raised on country music legends like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Don Williams, Willie Nelson and George Jones. Later I listened to musicians like George Strait, Robert Earl Keen and Lyle Lovett. And the one thing you can count on in country music is a story. Granted, some of those stories are about lost hound dogs, cheating men and trains. But it’s rare for me to listen to a country song without envisioning the story in my head.
A great example is Miranda Lambert’s latest release, “Mama’s Broken Heart.” I mean, this woman is hacking off her hair—and very likely with a pair of pinking shears—because she’s been dumped. Can’t you see it? She’s sitting at her mama’s kitchen table and that blond hair is falling all around the table like little wisps of misery. Then people start calling her mama, exclaiming over her daughter’s crazy behavior. Mama shakes a finger at her heartbroken daughter and tells her to buck up, suck it up and put her make-up on because it’s just a break-up. No man is worth looking like hell for. Now, maybe that’s not a romance novel, but it’s pretty easy to picture, isn’t it?
For each of my books, I create a playlist and inevitably country music is well represented. The soundtrack/playlist for my August release, Personal Assets, includes these songs:
- “Too Bad” by Nickelback
- “Ragtop Cadillac” by Lonestar
- “You Wreck Me” by Tom Petty
- “Old New Town” by Tim McGraw
- “Someday” by Nickelback
- “Baboom/Mama Said” by The Vaughan Brothers
- “Does Your Daddy Know About Me” by Lonestar
- “Six Foot Town” by Big & Rich
- “Find Out Who Your Friends Are” by Tracy Lawrence
- “Walk Like A Man” by Tim McGraw
- “Fight For All The Wrong Reasons” by Nickelback
- “Respect” by Aretha Franklin
- “One More Night” by Maroon 5
- “The Power of a Woman” by Lee Brice
And yes, it’s now clear I have an obsession with Nickelback and Stevie Ray Vaughan as well.
Sometimes, a song inspires the entire story. Sometimes it’s a mere phrase that matches the characters. But I listen to the playlist long enough that it immediately puts me in the “zone” to write and revise that book. After a while, I no longer hear the words, but the songs still represent the book’s essence.
In each book of my Texas Nights series, my characters eventually find themselves at a dive on Highway 12 called Dirty Harry’s. At Dirty Harry’s, you should order your beer with the top still on and avoid the restrooms, but the boot-scooting and the music? They’re always good.
Does music inspire you? Can you listen to music while you’re reading or writing?
Kelsey’s debut book, Personal Assets, will be released by Carina Press August 26, 2013.
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