Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Appropriate Music

Most writers seem to listen to music of some kind when they write. I prefer silence. I think this probably stems back to my teenage years. I spent a lot of time then holed up in my room, either doing homework or writing, and for both I needed quiet to concentrate.

However, when I have my early-morning writing sessions in Starbucks there is usually music playing. Generally, if it's not very interesting music, I tune it out. If it's music I know and like, I find myself listening to it, which makes it harder to concentrate on the writing.

At the moment when I sit in Starbucks I'm getting bombarded by Xmas songs. All well and good, but I'm writing a horror novel. Festive cheer is hardly encouraging the right mood.

Last week, sitting in Starbucks, I was working on a particularly difficult funeral scene, for one of the young victims of my supernatural monster. There are some key conversations that have to happen at the funeral to demonstrate the strain on the relationships between the main characters. I'm finding these scenes hard enough to write at the best of times. With cheesy Christmas pop songs going on in the background, it was even harder.

But then 'Hallelujah' came on. This has become a Xmas song simply because it was released by the X Factor winner a few years ago and hence was guaranteed to become the Xmas Number One. Whoever decided 'Hallelujah' was an appropriate choice for a Xmas song clearly hasn't listened to the lyrics. It's a beautiful song, but very depressing. And violent. However, it seemed aptly fitting for my downbeat funeral scene, and proved to be an inspiring song to write to.

If you're not familiar with the song, I include the Bon Jovi version here. This is admittedly not the best version - there are many - but this one's not bad, and I do enjoy looking at Jon Bon...


Sonya Clark said...

When you said this is considered a Christmas song I thought it had to be something other than the Leonard Cohen song, but it is and I'm stunned. You're right, this is so not a holiday song! Weird.

I've always liked Jeff Buckley's version. It's particularly haunting, probably more so because he's no longer living.

Sara-Jayne Townsend said...

We have a rather weird approach to Xmas songs here in the UK. Anything that's at the top of the charts in the Xmas week, is a Xmas song, regardless of whether or not it actually is. If the video contains hints of snow or candles, etc, then it's guaranteed to be rolled out every year.

For the last few years, the Christmas #1 has always been the first song recorded by the X Factor winner, which is released just in time to hit the charts for Christmas. This is the case with this song...