Music is a funny thing – I can’t spend a day without playing music while I’m working, walking somewhere or sitting on the tube ignoring everyone else. The influence of music on art and literature is significant to the point many writers and artists post or list playlists that “helped them” finish that story or kept them company as they painted.
A few historical examples include James Joyce (Italian Opera), Thomas Mann (Wagner), Stendhal (Mozart) to name a few. More modern examples include people like Stephenie Meyer of Twilight fame (Muse), Walter Mosley and James Lee Burke (Blues in general) and Stephen King (AC/DC, Ramones).
Of course, there’s also those artists who’ve gone on to play in bands as well – people like Juliette Lewis, Johnny Depp and Canoe Reeves who have (or had) their own bands.
And my hero, Stephen King famously belongs to a ‘group’ of writers called the Rock Bottom Remainders who get together occasionally to play rock and roll and have a good time. Members include: Dave Barry, Ridley Pearson, Scott Turow, Amy Tan, James McBride, Mitch Albom, Roy Blount, Jr., Matt Groening, Kathi Kamen Goldmark and Greg Iles. (My favourite quote has to be from Dave Barry: “We play music as well as Metallica writes novels.” – Fab.)
While I don’t play in a band (yet, give it time) I can’t say I’m any different, although my influences and playlists would be quite long as I don’t listen to the same album over and over (usually). That said, I’ve been listening to U.N.K.L.E.’s new album a lot lately – it’s playing as I write this and I’m really enjoying it.
Blues and rock and roll are probably the underpinnings of my musical influences, underpinning a lot of my work whether referenced or not.
Okay, maybe I use it as aural wallpaper. I know a lot of people can’t write or do anything else and listen to music as well and I have to pity them. For me it’s not a distraction, it’s a companion when I’m trying to write that perfect paragraph.
Or it could be simpler than that: my ears just get bored.