This is what I listen to. It’s what fuels my writing. I’ve got about a half-dozen KGSR Broadcast CDs, a few Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, Robert Earl Keene, Jarrod Dickenson, and Guy Forsyth. Not shown, because it’s on the desk waiting to be loaded into the tray, is my Christmas Adagios, a two-disc set of some of the prettiest music out there.

Yeah, I like singer-songwriter and classical. There’s a Bach Concertos CD in there as well. But then there’s the weird stuff, for lack of a better description. A Native American flute player called Virgie Ravenhawk. George Thorogood, who, by the way, scored the soundtrack to some of my best stories.

There are my friends’ CDs — Allan Gill (Clocks and Calendars), Johnny Love (The Gilliam Section), Vanita Trippe (Bellevue Jubilee).

Here’s the thing about writing to music. The music starts the trance and gets me into the words. If I pick the wrong CD, it sometimes mismatches to what I’m writing, and then I have to choose again.

If I use a CD too much, that’s it. I can’t write to it anymore. I can’t even listen to it any more. It’s absorbed the story or the novel, and the only thing I can hear when I play it is the words. That’s why Rockin’ My Life Away might be all finished up (I haven’t used it in a while). Bach too, but I think it’s just that CD. I can’t imagine being tired of Bach.

Sometimes the music throws me out of the story, especially when the song is one I love. Gurf Morlix’s Slots. Steve Earle’s Telephone Road. Lucinda Williams’ Blue. Bellevue Jubilee Just The Moon. The Vivaldi Winter Concerto (oh my God, the melting loveliness). Then I stop writing to listen. In the case of the Vivaldi, I play it a few times before I can go on.

Music has become such a necessary ritual that on the rare occasions I write without putting a CD in first, it’s always a surprise when I come to and realize that I didn’t need to put in a disc. But when I am not having an easy start, or if I am facing difficult edits, I must have music. It’s the only way to jumpstart the mood.

What’s on your set list?


Consuelo Grant · January 11, 2011 at 1:05 am


Audrey Lockwood · January 11, 2011 at 8:45 am

I have a few specific songs that I associate with characters and will sometimes go listen to them when getting ready to write about those characters. But generally my writing music is one of my Pandora stations. It’s based off Ronald Jenkees, who has some fun, energetic electronic music.

Patrice Sarath · January 11, 2011 at 8:10 pm

I have a few Pandora stations, but they resemble my photo above — same musicians. ; -) I mostly use Pandora for my day job, which is interesting. I wonder why I haven’t moved into that realm yet? Then again, I don’t have an iPod or an mp3 player, so maybe I’m just a Luddite when it comes to these things.

Consuelo, no CCR! Can you believe it? But it’s almost like that time of life is so far away that it’s become irrelevant to who I am now. (What Consuelo is referring to is my deep dark secret crush on John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival when I was a mere lass.) However, there is still CCR in my life, as my 15 year old son loves them.

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