Music has always been such an integral part of my life. People who are more exposed to music than me are probably musicians. Hell, if I hadn’t been tone-deaf, there’d be no stopping me from hitting the stage with my own band and rocking until the early hours of the day. Not that I’d stop writing. I’d be a writer/musician.
But luckily you don’t need to have talent to enjoy and utilize music to suit your moods. You can even use music to adjust your moods.
How many times have you listened to a sad song in a sad mood because you wanted something you could relate to?
I can also easily find a song to transform my emotions anyway that I like. For instance, if it is winter, and I need to be writing a sunny beach scene in Hawaii, I take advantage of chirpy and fast songs to help me get there. Sure, imagination works. But why not make the transition smoother, faster and definitely more fun?
Writing along to an upbeat song can help with your mood, as well as your writing speed. As much as I like a good REM song, a Motörhead number (Ace of Spades, to be specific) will make me think and type faster 90% of the time.
That said, I would definitely not be listening to Motörhead, Mötley Crüe or Guns’N’ Roses if I had a headache. Not because the songs are hard or fast, but because the voices of the singers…well, are not the softest. They might blend in nicely with catchy electric guitar solos, but they don’t offer relaxation. Not to me, anyway.
Below are suggestions for songs, singers and bands for causing, avoiding or accelerating certain feelings and moods (as well as helping with writing certain settings):
(Of course keep in mind that I’m primarily a rock fan so that the choices won’t surprise you a lot.)
A hard-rock club scene/ head-banging people at concerts/just writing damn fast: Ace of Spades-Motörhead, Fuel-Metallica, Kickstart My Heart-Motley Crue. Just for starters.
80s-90s/fitness/partying through rock’n’roll/feeling energetic/typing fast: Pretty much all the fast numbers of glam metal/glam rock bands (or the glam rock periods of classic rock/hard rock bands) such as Warrant, Aerosmith, Def Leppard, Whitesnake, Mr. Big.
Romance: Pretty much all slower songs of the bands mentioned above. And Bryan Adams.
Ultimate relaxation, peace and passion without exhaustion: REM (stay clear of songs like Lotus, though unless you prefer electric/computerized sounds over the softness of guitar), The Corrs, any slow Bryan Adams (he has more energizing rock numbers than people give him credit for), most unplugged albums of artists you like, Road Trippin’-Red Hot Chilli Peppers, anything Elvis Presley
For modern times: Matchbox 20 , Goo Goo Dolls
Fast, angry, slow, frustrated, depressed, happy, confused, excited…Whatever feeling you are after, or any combination of these feelings, they can provide the songs for you.
Anger, frustration and rebellion: Metallica, Offspring, Greenday
One cure-for-all: Bon Jovi
It’s a shame that people are either crazy about ballads like Always or the 2000 hit It’s my life and deem the band a too-popular-to-be-cool pop-rock band when they have so much more to offer. Not counting the first two albums (Bon Jovi, Fahrenheit 4800) that would fit perfectly in the over the top soundtracks of most 80s films, and if you really don’t want to get into the 80s happy-go-lucky parties and big hair periods (though there are some great classics in their 3rd and 4th albums), just start with Keep the Faith (1992). It’s modern rock before modern rock bands started popping around. The themes are more diverse and lyrics are funnier. It’s a good combination of awesome party fun and soul-searching. The sound is just different, in a very good way.
Then there’s These Days, a dark rock album closer to hard rock than pop rock. Survival, faith, love, sex, betrayal, drugs, depression…You name it. It’s there.
I can go on for a while, with them being my favorite band and all. But they do have the ultimate combination: great vocals, diverse and great lyrics and good music.
Give me a theme or a situation, and I can probably find a song from them. Also given that the singer’s voice improved considerably since the early 90s, there’s no mood they can’t put me in or get me out of. They write stories, not just situations.
Oh, they are also the right choice when you want someone singing that you’ll make your dreams come true. They sing that theme really often and really well.
MY FAVORITE HEADACHE-KILLER VOCALS – SONGS-BANDS
(These can kill headaches faster than Advil)…
Any Crowded House song
Blind Faith by Warrant
Bon Jovi (try acoustic or non-pop rock ballads)
Bryan Adams – any slow number
Red Hot Chilli Peppers- Road Trippin’
I have more of course, but these are my basics. Who do you listen to when you write? And why?