Friday, July 30, 2010

Songs as Inspiration

A lot of writers take inspiration from poems, quotes, and songs. They'll take the feel, the mood, and the sound of the work, and use it for mood and concept in their own. Sometimes they'll take the quote and expand on it, often for the theme but sometimes for the very basic plot. But that doesn't happen often with song lyrics, I don't think. With songs, it's almost strictly inspiring sound, as far as I can tell, unless the songs happens to be traditional. (Folk ballads about fairies are popular, for instance.)

Why don't more people use modern song lyrics as the quote their plots are based on? After all, a song is really a poem set to music, musicians have been doing it to writers for years, and it's not like there aren't plenty of songs to choose from.

I've always thought it would be a great challenge to write a series of stories based on songs—the greatest hits of classic rock, maybe, or the top twenty jazz standards, if there's a way of actually calculating that. I mused on Twitter the other day about writing stories based on Leonard Cohen songs. You could even do a wonderfully meta project of writing stories based on songs based on stories.

Some samples that would work for science fiction and fantasy:

Those fingers in my hair, / That sly come hither stare / that strips my conscience bare / It's witchcraft.  - "Witchcraft", Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh

I see a bad moon rising / I see trouble on the way / I see earthquakes and lightning / I see bad times today. - "Bad Moon Rising", Creedence Clearwater Revival

I'd like to be under the sea / in an octopus's garden, in the shade - "Octopus's Garden", Ringo Starr

And lastly, because there's no one example stanza:

Are there any songs you'd like to see adapted into a story? Have you every written anything based on a song?


Kathleen said...

I've never written anything based on a song but, in college, I did a series of illustrations based on Counting Crows lyrics. One was published in Applied Arts (which is a Canadian magazine devoted to graphic design and photography).

Anassa said...

Oh, very cool! Song-based art is just as cool as song-based writing. Congrats on getting a piece published, too.

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