Thursday, November 10, 2011

A beat of my own

The first time I heard Lady Gaga, I was standing in the grocery store debating if I could substitute couscous for quinoa (you can), when Paparazzi came on over the speakers. I stood there humming the catchy beat when my husband came up behind me and grabbed a box of plain rice.

"Why can’t we just have this?" he asked.

Ignoring him, I asked if he knew who sang the song pumping over the loudspeakers.

"You mean Lady Gaga?" He asked in mild disbelief.

"Lady Gaga," I said, "I think I’ve heard of her."

"Of course you’ve heard of her, Laura! She’s ridiculously famous. She even has a muzac track," he said, pointing to the ceiling. He shook his head and laughed, before grabbing another box of rice.

Later I related this story to my friend Ju, letting her know how I discovered this really good “new” artist named Lady Gaga. Like my husband, she laughed at me, before informing me I was way out of the loop when it came to music. Even she had heard of Lady Gaga.

I give you this example of my own cultural stupidity, because a month ago I received a request from a blogger for my book Founder's, "soundtrack.”

"Soundtrack?" I thought, "What the heck is that?" It turns out most authors, what seems like every author, is inspired by music. They listen to music as they write, and their characters all have their own style of music.

Apparently this should have been an easy thing to do, but all l I could think was,

When did this become a thing?

I did more research. I read blog posts from other authors about their own soundtracks, and I began to feel more than a little overwhelmed.

I don’t think Laurie Berkner was going to cut it for this one (and let's be honest, Laurie Berkner rocks- my kids sing "We are the Dinosaurs" in their sleep). Could I get away with mixing The Bangles, AC/DC, and The Doors? The last album I purchased was the soundtrack to Tangled, which is what I still stand by as, a “new release.”

Even now while I’m typing this, the theme song is pumping from my children’s princess karaoke machine.

I’m simply not inspired by music. I sing (barely). I dance (when necessary). I listen to. . .nothing usually. I like the sound of silence. You really learn to appreciate quiet when you’ve grown up in a huge family and now live with three incredibly rambunctious kids. Don’t get me wrong, I have my favorite songs- I think music can be uplifting or enforce whatever mood I’m in. But I’m much more likely to be caught listening to an audiobook, then listening to some top forty hit.

I began feeling very alone in this feeling, so I called my friend Liz to discuss my problem.

My friend Liz, musical encyclopedia, equally horrified that I had never heard of Lady Gaga.

I handed over my iphone and she filled it with what I needed. Current music in every genre she thinks I would enjoy.

David Guetta, for the gym.

Grace Potter, for my car.

Adele, for my home.

For the next week I felt like I was surrounded in a music bubble, earpiece surgically connected to one ear as I concentrated on my characters and pieced it all together. My head throbbed with lyrics, my iPhone shuffling through different playlists. I visited the land of Pandora and had a brief relationship with Spotify. Then finally, finally I made something up and sent it off. Proud of myself for accomplishing the impossible.

Now I’m back to normal, and I wonder- Am I really so alone? I find the rhythm distracting when I write, especially when my characters need to have their own voices. I don’t understand why anyone would need a soundtrack to their book.

But. . .what do you think? Do you listen to music while you type?

And what do you listen to?


  1. I am so glad to hear you don't listen to music when you write. I was begining to think I was the only one. I've read that so many people do listent to music when they write and I can't. I start singing the songs in my head and the story goes out the window. I couldn't listent o music when I was studying either. Nope, I'm with you silence is a beautiful creative thing for me. :-)

  2. Hallelujah! I'm so glad there's someone else that feels this way! I was so nervous typing this up feeling like I was literally, THE ONLY ONE WHO FELT THIS WAY. So glad you do too Cynthia! (and thanks for stopping by :)

  3. THANK YOU! I can't listen to music when I write either, it takes up too much space in my brain! Bravo to you for coming up with a soundtrack. I think I would just say my music life and my writing life are separate. Though I do love Adele...I could listen to her songs all day long (except when I'm writing, of course!)