I create soundtracks when I write, particularly if I’m writing long-form (No Grave, for instance, is a novel). I find it helps to surround myself with music with similar motifs and emotional resonance when I write. This is, of course, after all the initial brainstorming is done and I actually sit down at a keyboard or notepad to start work on the actual words (brainstorming is a whole different bag of cats–er–crap). I usually start off by making a soundtrack of anything I think matches up remotely with what I’m doing. For No Reflection and No Grave (as well as a couple other half-finished projects I haven’t announced), the first-draft playlist runs about 40 songs. In perspective, the final draft playlist for No Reflection was 12 songs, and the final draft playlist for No Grave is…15 songs. There are overlaps between the two soundtracks because they have similar themes, overlapping characters, and, of course, similar setting.
The playlist gets cut as I learn more about the story. The more I write, the deeper I get into the narrative, the characters, and the action, and the more I figure out what the story is really about in terms of themes, motifs, metaphor, politics, etc… the fewer of the original songs make sense, and the fewer of them serve to put me in the mindset of the story. They get sloughed off so that by the final draft the playlist is significantly shorter and more poignant…actually, they’re rather like the words, themselves, in that way.
I was under the impression, for most of this, that nobody really cared what I listened to when I wrote things. Since I have had three different people ask about it, this week, however, I’m beginning to think that maybe I was wrong? In any case, instead of simply answering the people who asked, I decided I would put it out for anyone, anywhere, at any time, to read.
Without further ado, the track list for my inspiration soundtrack for No Grave (I have added links to those artists who have posted their work online — I’ve done my best to make sure the link is sourced from the artist, so if I’ve messed up, please let me know):
1. Lauren O’Connell – House of the Rising Sun
2. Johnny Cash – Ain’t No Grave
3. LEGS OCCULT – There’s a Sadness
4. Dinah Washington/Max Richter – This Bitter Earth/Nature of Daylight
5. Lorde – Biting Down
6. Johnny Cash – Hurt
7. LEGS OCCULT – Breathe
8. Nine Inch Nails – The Wretched (Keith Hillebrandt Mix)
9. Marilyn Manson – Golden Age of Grotesque
10. Lauren O’Connell – Oh Death
11. John Murphy – In the House – In a Heartbeat (from the 28 Days Later OST)
12. The Crawdiddies – Ain’t No Grave
13. Marilyn Manson – This is Halloween
14. Tom Waits – Dirt in the Ground
15. Marilyn Manson – Spade