“Without music, life would be a mistake.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
I stood atop of the rooftop of the Chicago apartment and looked over the skyline. We were on the north side of the city. My side of the city. The day was magnificent. There was nary a cloud in the sky. Spring was beginning in the city and the air was beginning to melt under the crispness of winter’s bite. I stood on that rooftop in my jeans, in my cardigan, in my soft T-shirt, in my tan Vans, with my black, cheap sunglasses atop of my little Irish nose. It was picturesque. To prove this claim, I will include a picture in this post, something I rarely do for you.
We were celebrating one of my best friends’ end of bachelorhood. A tradition that usually involves scantily clad women, becoming more scant while the men indulge in an overabundance of alcohol. We did not carry on that tradition for Joel. There were no scantily clad women. There were no bare breasts. There was just an overabundance of alcohol. And pizza. There was a lot of damn pizza.
As I stood on that rooftop, leaning over the railing, sipping on a Miller Lite and admiring the city, one of Joel’s friends that I had not previously met came over to me. He is a super nice man. If you are in the city I recommend having a beer with him. He had a beer with me on that railing and I had a beer with him. He wanted to know my muse. He came out and asked me what my muse was. What inspires me to write. Where do I come up with the ideas I come up with. Where do I think of these scenarios that involve religious conversations intermixed with dick and fart jokes. Or in my new book, where did I come up with a story involving suicide, abortion, love and dick and fart jokes. The answer to me was simple.
Music. I wasn’t literally saying that my stories are all guided by music, but a lot of my stories are born from listening to music. I surround myself by music and always have I on. I always want to hear music, and I always want to discover music. A great album is like your favorite movie or your favorite book. You crave it and you quote it and think about it and you miss it and you are affected by it and you are moved by it and you are – inspired by it. A great song, like any great art, can inspire you. You can find meaning in it. Perhaps the songwriter didn’t intend for that meaning, but you find it nonetheless. Just like you can do in a great book, movie, poem, etc. It’s art, man.
So, most of my work will be inspired by a song. If you have read When Life Hands You a Lemon you’ll notice I have my main character signing in the book, I reference music in the beginning and in the acknowledgements I tell you that I heard DJ Shadow’s, “Blood on the Motorway” and very clearly saw the ending of the book. I always write a book when I know the ending. I won’t start it unless I know the end. It’s important for me to have that goal in mind. So, I explained it to him on the rooftop. I explained to him that my new one, Mourning Skye was inspired by three songs. Nine Inch Nails, “Hurt.” Hum, “Stars.” No Use for a Name, “International You Day.”
I guess I feel like when I am writing a book, I am writing a movie I want to watch. Maybe that’s a good explanation there. And I think most of my favorite movies have excellent soundtracks, because it relates back to the story, bringing everything full circle. I was listening to NPR the other day, like I do most. I can’t recall who was being interviewed but it was a gentlemen who worked for a noise reduction company. He was describing the difference between noise and sound. Noise being unwanted. Sound being wanted. That is the simple explanation. He explained that humans need sound, not noise, and even the absent of sound is deafening. It’s a mistake. Life without music is a mistake.
I’m inspired by all art. 90% of writing is plagiarism in some sense of the word, right? Capulets vs the Montagues. Can’t right a better love story, you can just emulate it. We, as artists, can just be inspired. And when we find that inspiration, we need to find a way to express that inspiration, so that one day someone who is just starting out can find your words or whatever medium you use, useful and be inspired. For me, it’s music.
311 said it best:
What would the world be like?
Without you around
You’re my constant companion
Please to enjoy.