Music to Put You in the Mood

Song Suggestions for Writing Scenes

Ah, music. The melodies that soothe the savage beasts, inspire poems by moonlight and raise babies’ IQs, right? But really, how powerful is a song? Being a woman of a certain age, I was raised on seventies and eighties music, and when they play those songs on the oldies’ station, I can remember sitting by the radio, fingers poised over the “record and play” buttons of my cassette recorder, waiting for Casey Kasem to stop talking over the introduction of the song I wanted to record.

From the American Songbook to Elvis to The Beatles to Public Enemy and beyond, I will listen to it all. In my head, there are only two kinds of music…good and bad. I don’t pigeonhole my musical tastes by genre, by age or by whatever, because you never know when you’ll find the piece that inspired.

As a writer, I’ve found that music helps push you in writing. If I’ve been working on a scene and feel I’m not getting it just right, I click over to my play lists, which I’ve had the wherewithal to label “Love”, “Angst” and “Anger” among other emotive descriptors. One click, a glance at my scribbled notes, and soon I’m on my way, typing away on the scene on which I was stuck.

Or at least that’s the way it works in my head….that is not always the reality.

Nevertheless, music does pave the way for ideas, inspiration and the odd thought that pops into one’s head at odd times. Thank goodness for the notes app on my phone.

So, let me share with you a little of my magical, musical, process.

Pictured: Love Candles?

Starry-eyed romance, whew. With these songs, it’s the lyrics that grab me the most. Just that one perfect line can make the song. For example:

Hey, Soul Sister — Train. “The smell of you in every single dream I dream…”

Chasing Cars — Snow Patrol. “All that I ever was/Is here in your perfect eyes, they’re all I can see..”

The One — Elton John. “When stars collide, like you and I….no shadow blocks the sun…”

Waiting for You — Seal. “There has been no one brighter than you/I can’t deny these things that I do/Feels like the world’s at stake yeah/I have been waiting/I have been waiting for you….”

And from the American Songbook:

All the Things You Are (Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein II). “You are the promised kiss of springtime that makes the lonely winter seem long…..You are the angel glow that lights a star…..the dearest things that I know are what you are….”(I prefer the Sinatra version.)

Combine those words with the powerful music, and how can you not get all gooey inside?


Angst. Oh, the visions of teenagers clutching pillows and crying until their chest aches. I don’t usually have angst…but when I need it, here are my go-to groups/songs.

Sounds of Silence- Disturbed: “Hello darkness, my old friend…”

So Lonely — The Police: “But I can only play that part/And sit and nurse my broken heart…”

Love is a Battlefield — Pat Benatar (also, Promises in the Dark) “We are strong….no one can tell us we’re wrong”

Separate Ways — Journey: “Some day, love will find you/Break those chains that bind you…”

All by Myself — Eric Carmen “…don’t wanna be…all by myself…”

All Cried Out — Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam; “Now I’m all cried out…over you…”

Wicked Game — HIM: “ It’s strange what desire will make foolish people do

They’re good friends in reality.

Fight/High Energy Scenes? I got you.

Mama Said Knock You Out — LL Cool J:

Land of Confusion — Genesis and/or Disturbed: “This is the world we live in….and these are the names we’re given…”

We’re Not Gonna Take it — Twisted Sister: “Your life is trite and jaded/Boring and confiscated/If that’s your best, your best won’t do…”

Rebel Yell — Billy Idol: “With a rebel yell, she cried more, more, more…”

Fight the Power — Public Enemy: “Power to the people no delay/To make everybody see/In order to fight the powers that be”

Of course, I’ve got tons more, but this post is to give you just a taste of what inspires me, moves me, motivates me.

Thanks for reading!


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