I spent summers working at the best store on Long Beach Island (three stores actually, all selling the same merchandise within a two-block span of each other, which sounds indulgent now but actually worked back in the heyday of the mid-to-late 90s), and there are certain albums that, when I hear them unexpectedly, stop me in my tracks and bring me back to warm summer mornings, the smell of the beach lingering in the wind, the store empty and the sun shining. Those were my favorite moments in the store, when the island hadn't yet awoken and it was just me, loading up the seven-disc player and refolding tee shirts, waiting.
Just now, an old 10,000 Maniacs song came on the Adult Alternative music channel (fodder for another post, but you know you're old when your favorite music channel is Adult Alternative), followed by REM's Night Swimming, and I died.
I set a high writing goal for myself this weekend, and I almost always listen to background music while I write, and those two songs just brought me back into my character's head in a new way like whoa. So it got me thinking about the music I've been listening to for this particular manuscript, which may seem odd but, if you know me, is actually quite perfect: 10,000 Maniacs Unplugged (probably one of my top 5 albums of all time), Taylor Swift's Speak Now (I know, I know, but it's perfect for this character), David Gray's Draw the Line, and Mumford & Sons' Sigh No More. What's interesting this time around is that this WIP doesn't take place on the beach (my first one did), which means that I'm trying to actually stay away from my versions of beach music (which includes Indigo Girls, James Taylor, Carole King).
I know everyone has those bands that take them back to key moments in life. And I don't think I will every be able to listen to Natalie Merchant without thinking of my favorite summer job, or Taylor Swift without remembering being in Hoboken's Panera while I cracked open a scene I hadn't expected to write.