There’s an XTC song I’ve always liked called “Senses Working Overtime.” I found myself humming it the other day when walking in the park. Probably because the scent of something flowering was strong and heady, almost disturbing, and the sky was so bright it hurt to look up, and sounds of children and dogs and people’s radios filled the air. (Yes, some people still play their music on boom boxes or radios.)
And it hit me that day that I really don’t listen to music anymore. Certainly not like I used to – my teens are filled with memories of mix tapes and hoping for a Walkman and holing up in my room to sing to myself. Not to mention sneaking around to become a DJ at the local college station despite only being in high school. College was filled with music, too – mine and everyone else’s. But somewhere along the line, I stopped listening.
I can’t escape being bombarded with the flavor of the month pop hit, and I still get creeped out when I’m in a store and find myself humming along to the Muzak version of REM or the Cure. (Why it’s not so bad when it’s the Beatles or Fleetwood Mac, I dunno.) But even when I find songs or artists I like and I mean to download them – and sometimes even do it, adding them to a playlist – the music just sort of sits there.
Plenty of kid lit authors write to music; some even cite full playlists in their acknowledgements. So what happened to me?
Perhaps it’s because I need a blank slate to create. When I’m writing, I’m imagining not just what my characters see, but that they hear, smell, touch, and even taste. (Yes, I know – everyone does that. And yes, it’s likely just as vivid for them.) So in a way, to add music as a backdrop would overload my senses. I do miss the sounds of kids in the playground since we moved. Kind of a cute reminder of why I’m writing.
Or perhaps just because playing music is no longer just as easy as snapping on a radio? Pandora‘s lovely, but my computer or the TV has to be on. And they have screens – which annoy me. Not a fan of screens. Unless I’m working on one.
What about you? Do you have a soundtrack for every book? Or is it the soundtrack of life?