Friday, September 17, 2010

Music in Novels

I am a huge fan of crime / heist movies and novels. I love the criminal element and all that goes along with that. What I don't particularly like is too much police interfernce in the story, unless the cops are corrupt of course. The story's I like focus on the bad guys, and within that some of the bad guys can be the good guys. Besides the profanity, violence, drug / drink use, and dialogue, my favorite movies have great soundtracks - GoodFella's, Blow, Casino, etc.. It really adds that extra to the experience.

Now, it is a little different with novel's, but most of the one's I like do mix in music in one way or another. When writing "Mindjacker", I had many goals, but two of the top ones were: try and write a novel that would have the style and read like some of the movies I dig, and try to incorporate a soundtrack into it. Whether I succeeded, remains to be seen, but the feedback I have received has made me think that I just may have.

So, a question to anyone who reads this: What's you take on music in novels?

For those who give a shite, here are the tunes that are referenced in Mindjacker, and ones that didn't make the cut. I listened to every one of these so many times while writing the story, and each one inspired a thought or a scene. The numero uno song that sparked my inspiration for the story, which I heard while listening to a HEART greatest hit CD in 2007 on way to work was this THIS. I still listen to this almost everyday and still get the spine chill when the kick it into overdrive at 2:23

Some of the people who have read the novel, asked me for a list of the songs so they could burn a play list, they liked them so much. Here is what I sent them. You need to know that my target audience was regular Joe's or Josephine's who grew up in or around the 1970's and were from working class families, where music was one of the things that got us through the good and bad times.

Included in novel in extact order:

“My Favorite Things” The Supremes
“O’ Holy Night”
“Ventura Highway” America
“Magical Mystery Tour” The Beatles
"Ballroom Blitz" The Sweet
“Dr. FeelGood” Motley Crue
“Rollin” Limp Bizkit
“Catch Us If You Can” Dave Clark Five
“Cats in the Cradle” Harry Chapin
“Rooster” Alice in Chains
“Californication” The Red Hot Chili Peppers
“The First Cut is the Deepest” Rod Stewart
“Toys in the Attic” Aerosmith
“Love Removal Machine” The Cult
“One” Metallica
“Celebrity Skin” Hole.
“Dirty White Boy” Foreigner
"Secret Agent Man" Johnny Rivers
“Girl From Ipenema”
“Do You Feel Like We Do” Peter Frampton
“Heartless” Heart
“Straight On” Heart
“Tumbling Dice” The Rolling Stones
“Hard to Handle” Black Crowes
“Goodbye Daughters of the Revolution” Black Crowes
“Double Vision” Foreigner
“Come Sail Away” STYX
“Boogie Nights” Heatwave
“Dancing Queen” ABBA
“Sweet Emotion” Aerosmith
“Sister Christian” Night Ranger
“2000 Light Years From Home” Rolling Stones
“JailBreak” Thin Lizzy
“Shattered” Rolling Stones
“Hot Legs” Rod Stewart
“Jump” House of Pain
“Don’t Cry” Guns N’ Roses
“Straight On” Heart
“Dreamboat Annie” Heart
“Too Late For Love” Def Leppard
"Skinned" Blind Melon
“Wild World” Cat Stevens
“Love Hurts” Nazareth
“Knocked Up” Kings of Leon
“Charmer” Kings of Leon
“Death Letter” White Stripes
“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” Elton John
“Descending” Black Crowes
“Bohemian Rhapsody” Queen
“You’re No Good” Linda Ronstadt
“Sunshine of Your Love” Cream
"Mr.Brownstone" Guns & Roses
“What’s this Life For” Creed
“My own Prison” Creed
“With Arms Wide Open” Creed
“We Die Young” Alice in Chains
"Brother" Alice in Chains
“Whiskey in a Jar” Metallica
"James Bond Theme" John Barry
“Sex Type Thing” Stone Temple Pilots
“Insane in the Brain” Cypress Hill
"Get Ready" Rare Earth
“I want You to Want Me” Cheap Trick
“Christine Sixteen” KISS
“How I Could Just Kill a Man” Cypress Hill
“Dead and Bloated” Stone Temple Pilots
“I’m That Type of Guy” LL Cool J
“Mistral Wind” Heart
"Fly Like an Eagle" Steve Miller Band
“Train Kept a Rollin” Aerosmith
“Cat Scratch Fever” Ted Nugent
“Let’s Go” The Cars
“Rhiannon” Fleetwood Mac
“Almost Cut My Hair” Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young
“Runnin’ With The Devil” Van Halen
“Little Dreamer” Van Halen
“Camaro” Kings of Leon
“You wear it well” Rod Stewart
“Magic Man” Heart
“Midnight at the Oasis” Maria Muldaur
"Gimme Three Steps" Lynyrd Skynyrd
"Let It Be" The Beatles
“Coma” Guns N Roses
“Grind” Alice in Chains
“Break Stuff” Limp Bizkit
“99 Miles From L.A” Johnny Mathis
“Girl from A Pawnshop” Black Crowes
“You’re Pretty Good Looking (For a Girl)” White Stripes
“Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” (Muzak Version )
“Escape” Rupert Holmes
“Sister Do You Know My Name?” White Stripes

Songs from "Mindjacker" that didn't make the cut, but inspired me along the way.

“Patience” Guns N Roses
“Four Kicks” Kings of Leon
“Stellar” Incubus
“Heart Shaped Box” Nirvana
“So This is Love” Van Halen
“Nice to Know You” Incubus
“More Than a Feeling” Boston
“That Smell” Lynyrd Skynyrd
“Do It For The Kids” Velvet Revolver
“My Little Town” Simon & Garfunkel
“Show Me the Way” Peter Frampton
“Dazed and Confused” Led Zeppelin
“Miss You” The Rolling Stones
“Barracuda” Heart
"Sludge Factory" Alice in Chains
“Mean Streets” Van Halen
“Renegade” Styx
“Midnight From the Inside Out” Black Crowes
“Nasty Girl” Vanity Six
“Mamakin” Aerosmith
“Last Child” Aerosmith
“Can’t Stand Losing You”The Police
“Message In A Bottle” The Police
“Canary in a Coal Mine” The Police
“Cinnamon Girl” Neil Young
“Wicked Garden” Stone Temple Pilots
“The Runner” Kings of Leon
“Sucker Train Blues” Velvet Revolver
“Dust in the Wind” Kansas
“Attention” The Raconteurs
“Sister Golden Hair” America
"Get Free" The Vines
“Rich Girl” Hall and Oates
“Beast of Burden” Rolling Stones
“Galaxie” Blind Melon
“Honky Tonk Woman” Rolling Stones
“Time of the Season” The Zombies
“Rock and Roll Fantasy” Bad Company
“Highway to Hell” AC/DC
“Flirtin with Disaster” Molly Hatchet
“Ain’t Talking Bout Love” Van Halen
“Grind” Alice in Chains
"Love Hurts" Nazereth
"Star Rider" Foreigner
"Head Creeps" Alice in Chains
“Renegade” STYX
“Evenflow” Pearl Jam
“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” The Beatles
“We Gotta Get Out of This Place” The Animals
“What’s Your Name” Lynyrd Skynyrd
“Effigy” Uncle Tupelo


  1. Sean, yesy, yes, yes, to music in novels. I think that sometimes the words of a song can carry one situation into another, one chapter into another, even. Loving your list of songs, as well. A man after my own heart. Rock rules!!

    Here's a link you may like. It's a radio station I always had on when I was working, when we were back in Manchester. I can't get it up here on the radio, but I listen to it on the 'net'. Hope you like it.

    Rock Radio

    Great post!!

  2. Dave- Great observation as to the power of music inside a story. I checked out Rock Radio, very nice indeed. I have always thought that the UK was ahead of the US in terms of music, and I'm recently thinking the same re: crime / suspense writing, especially the style I like to read.

  3. You better be careful, Stephanie Meyer does the same thing ;)

  4. Glenna-Yikes! I'm doomed. Hopefully she doesn't also have someone being dismembered with a Sawz-All while Britney Spears sings "Oops!...I did it Again".

  5. No...I think you're safe there...that was a close one though.

  6. Love this! I love music in books, gives a great sense of time and place as well as subtle (or maybe not so subtle) insight into a character. Great choices, too - some of my absolute faves in there| :)

  7. Wow, that's quite a playlist. I don't know if I'm really skilled enough to coordinate this when it comes to reading the book, but it would sure be fun if I can figure it out.

  8. Julie- I remember in the interview you did with Paul B you mentioned perhaps trying to get working on WIP novel that has some music in it. Based on the writing's of yours I have read, I hope you stay with it, so I can read it!

    Seana- Hopefully it proves not to be overwhelming. Just the titles are used.

    -For those that do not know this...Song titles can be used without permission, but if you want to use lyrics, you need to get permission in most cases, and it can get very expensive and time consuming to do so.

  9. Mate, you've got enough their for a trilogy and then some!

    I've named a few stories after songs.
    here's one:

    And music does feature in more than a few of my stories. As does Deal Or No Deal.

  10. Paul- I'm with you on the number of tunes and it could very well backfire on me, but like a lot of new writers, I have a style that I like to write, and use certain devices that I enjoy when reading, that maybe someday will be linked with my writing as well. Like music, everything has been done before and you just try to find a way to do it differently.

    "The Friend Catcher" was a great read. The imagery was awesome and you got me with the ending. I love reading your stuff.