Lyrical Inspiration


Do you listen to music when writing? I find music to be inspirational. Often, I listen to classical or something without words to keep me from distraction. If I'm deep into a draft I won't listen to anything at all. But, if I'm daydreaming or imagining a new story (my favorite part of writing) I like to listen to music with lyrics that make me think. I like lyrics that are like poetry or story set to music.

Writing and music are on the same creative spectrum. Really, lyrics are nothing more than words in some poetic form put to music. In fact, I know of at least one writer that wrote the lyrics for a popular song many years ago. This is a writer of fantasy and famous for Elric and the Eternal Champion. Yes, that author is none other than Micheal Moorcock and he wrote the lyrics, based on the Eternal Champion, to the Blue Oyster Cult song, Veteran of the Psychic Wars. Yes, I know. It's an oldie.

You're seeing now a veteran of a thousand psychic wars,
I've been living on the edge so long, where the winds of Limbo roar.
And I'm young enough to look at,
And far too old to see, all the scars are on the inside.
I'm not sure that there's anything left of me.
See? Even the music flows with the words to tell a story. Lyrics like this are perfect for creating a new story because, even though lyrics are a kind of story, they remain fractured and porous. What I mean is that song lyrics, like poetry, often leaves much to the imagination. One must fill in the blanks to create a story within the mind and that story is always unique to the individual.

Moving from Fantasy to Science fiction, one can find plenty of inspiration. One of my favorites is from the band Rush, and called simply "The Trees." Listen to this song and think about social science fiction, or even the current social situation in America.

For more science fiction, how about a song by Billy Thorpe. Never heard of him? I know, me neither. But I bet that if you grew up in the seventies and eighties as I did, you heard this song.

Who can resist a song with lyrics that start with: People of the Earth can you hear me?

But what about love, you ask? Sure, I can think of a couple of songs for that. Here's one about desperate love, sung by Barbara Streisand and written by the brothers Gibb.

Now, if you want something sexy and sultry to get those creative juices flowing, look no further than this scorcher by Fiona Apple.

You moved like honey, in my dreams last night.
Yeah, some old fires were burning.
I could go on forever like this but you get the picture. I know that most writers want complete silence when writing, I do too, most of the time. But when looking for inspiration, I often turn to music.

How about you? Does music inspire you in writing? It doesn't matter what genre you write in or if you enjoy writing poetry or prose. There is probably a song out there somewhere that inspired something within you.