Not country music (Xander Harris in the house!) or music that hurts your ears, because that is a terrible thing to do to yourself. Yes, I mean both bad music AND country music. Oxymoron? Look, I live in Texas. I’ve had country music inflicted on me since birth. A few outlier songs aside…


It’s far better to listen to the stuff that reaches into your ribcage and crushes your heart, pulverizes your ability to function. Or, you know, gives you a case of the sads/helps your brain think in that manner. I don’t actually want Mola Ram to offer your physical organ up to Shiva.

Listening to music when I write is a tricky thing. It’s either a total nuisance and keeps me from thinking, or it’s perfect, and I practically need it to get the scene on the page. There are two types of scenes in which the latter is true…


Sex scenes (gimmie a ’70s bass line, and put some stank on it!) or heart-wrenching, gut-clenching emotional moments. NEED IT, WE NEEDS IT, PRECIOUS.

My favorite kind of music to write to is epic, is emotional, the singer’s voice is bare, their feelings exposed, or the arrangements in the background are practically a symphony–I’m talking about rock music. If you don’t know the English band Doves, get on that. They use oboes for crying out loud. [They’re below, by the way, so keep reading. THEN get on that.] My father is a pianist and classical guitarist [among other things], and one of my sisters is a trained opera singer, so I’m all for the classics.

Great, great example of everything I love in music in one song: ‘Paranoid Android’ by Radiohead. [And that music video!!] Their song ‘Exit Movie [For A Film]’ is without question my favorite, and plays like an entire movie in my head when I listen to it. So it doesn’t go on my writing list, because I can do nothing but listen and think about this song when it plays. Same goes with a lot of hip-hop, which is my go-to music. I listen to hip-hop more than anything else, but I can’t write to it. I have to dance. Ahaha. Ahem.

I was introduced to a French musician Yann Tierson through a song for a documentary, “Tabarly” – the song was Naval. [I’ve never seen the documentary.] It’s simple, just a piano, but listen to that and tell me you don’t see your protagonist beaten down, heartbroken, desperate, and walking the rainy misty streets of some European city, or along a pier as the ocean swells and he or she contemplates all they’ve lost. The whole album is like a fabulous French film from the late ’60s or ’70s, and it’s gorgeous to have playing in the background while your mind wanders.

I made a mix-tape for the book I’m publishing in November and damn if I don’t pull that back up for other things I’m writing. It just works for me, these songs. One in particular was the actual inspiration for this monster of a book of mine. There are about 50 in all, but these 14 are the ones that get played the most often. [Do you know about 8 Track? It’s awesome, if not.]

[8tracks url=”″ flash=”yes” ]

If the module doesn’t work, click here and hit play.

So lay it on me. Music? Y/N? If Y, then what’s your jam?  Someone needs your ear juice to fuel their words today!

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