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January 21, 2010

Pavlovian Musical Responses

Kate Hart
For a lot of writers, music is a key element in the process. It helps set the mood, or motivate, or block out other noise so you can think. What I didn't realize until recently was that certain music triggers a Pavlovian response in me to write. Like, I hear the first few notes and think, "Where's my laptop? I need my notebook."

Then I started thinking about what other songs trigger instant reactions. A few results, in no particular order, are listed below.



Songs that make me...


Drool:
Because they're just.so.good. I'm a total sucker for fantastic lyrics, as most writers I know are. Little Earthquakes by Tori Amos is amazing (but I used Scarlett's Walk here because I like the cover better). The Red Hot Chili Peppers' rhymes always destroy me: "Entertain ya" and "Pennsylvania"? That's genius. The Counting Crows' later albums get old, but August and Everything After had some fabulous writing on it. Maybe the all-time best: Second half of Abbey Road, just for overall kickassitude.




Move my ass:
I swear, it has a mind of its own every time "Hey Ya" by Outkast comes on. Other culprits include "Go Go Gadget Gospel" by Gnarls Barkley, "Dirty Harry" by the Gorillaz and pretty much anything by Ozo Matli.



Stomp:
Not exactly the same as dancing-- think heavy foot tapping, accompanied by head bobbing. The White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army" and Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Mississippi Kid" get me every time.





Write:
"Packt Like Sardines In a Crushd Tin Box" from Amnesiac by Radiohead. Just the first few notes make me scramble for a pen. The Eraser by Thom Yorke and several Zero 7 albums also help.





Dream Up Smutty Scenes:
Go-to music for scenes that ARE IN NO WAY AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL OH HI MOM! LOOK OVER THERE!
*whispers*: Portishead, Sade and Bjork's album Homogenic.





Sing Loudly and Off Key:
It really doesn't take much, honestly. "Skinny Love" by Bon Iver, "Nonfiction" by The Black Crowes, "Two of Us" by the Beatles, "Hello It's Me" by Todd Rundgren, "St. Teresa" by Joan Osborne... this could go on and on.








Stare Off Into the Ether Like I've Lost My Mind:
"The Wolves" by Bon Iver and "Mercy Street" by Peter Gabriel temporarily rob me of cognizant thought.






Get Lost On Memory Lane:
  • Anything by Parliament, Herbie Hancock or James Brown, the soundtrack to my high school career. 
  • Behind The Front by the Black Eyed Peas, the soundtrack to many a college party. (This was pre-BEP sell out and massive suckage.)  

      • "It Doesn't Matter" by Wyclef Jean: When we studied in Oxford, one of our roommates was a pale, genteel Republican from Missouri who did the.best.Wyclef.imitation.EVER. I wish I could find that kid. Absolutely adored him.
      • "Sweet Thing" by Van Morrison: One of the songs on the very first mix tape my husband made for me in high school. (Awwwww.)
      • "Suite Judy Blue Eyes" by Crosby Stills Nash and Young: Because my sister, mom and I can sing a mean three part harmony when the mood strikes.
      • "Indifference" by Pearl Jam: Versus tour, Barnhill Arena, Little Rock circa 1993. My best friend won tickets and we went in our Keds and JC Penney flannels. It was AWESOME. This song was played completely in the dark, except for some candles and Eddie Vedder clicking his lighter to the rhythm. A completely perfect moment. (I used to have the shirt at right. Wish I could find it, too.)





      Drive Too Fast With My Windows Down and the Music Blaring:
      Not that I would ever break the law in such a way. "One Way Out" by the Allman Brothers, "I Might Be Wrong" by Radiohead, "Be Somebody" by Kings of Leon and the entire Guero album by Beck.










      Scream and Cover My Ears in Pain and Horror:
      So horrible I can barely stand to type them. "Locomotion" by Kylie Minogue and "Kokomo" by The Beach Boys. I literally writhe in pain until these songs are over.


      I want to see your lists! Leave me link spam! People who list "Kokomo" are dead to me!


      2 comments:

      1. Abbey Road....kickastitude is right on! :)


        (Did that sound too "seventies"?)

        ReplyDelete
      2. Get out of my head, Kate, and quit trying to steal my personality! I even agree on the songs that make me want to scream. Little Earthquakes is one of my favorite albums!

        ReplyDelete

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