Playlist for Before the Wind
The final draft of this novel took six wet months. Every day Iíd drive into Olympia to a marina. Then Iíd walk the docks in the rain to our 40-year-old sailboat. Once inside, Iíd turn on the kettle, the heater and the music and begin writing. I played three CDs over and over until they began to feel like the soundtrack for the story.
Miles Davis, Kind of Blue
Rodrigo y Gabriela, 11:11
John Coltrane, Giant Steps
Of these, Miles was the most valuable. He kept me rolling day after day. Thereís a beautiful calm to his trumpet and a brilliance to Kind of Blue that practically hypnotizes me into a good writing state.
Rodrigo y Gabriella was my triple espresso when I needed it. The high-speed dueling Spanish guitars in the opening song rarely failed to fire me back up.
Coltraneís Giant Steps brought discipline. Iíve read how he practiced scales daily even after he was considered a sax virtuoso. Writing novels takes discipline, talent and luck. And discipline is the only one Iíve got any control over. So, when in doubt, Iíd put on Coltrane and go back to work.
I usually avoid listening to lyrics while writing, but two couple singers crept into my habits.
Natalie Merchantís Greatest Hits. I canít really explain why this album soothes or moves me. I donít even know what most of her songs are about but thereís something in her confident, patient voice that steadies me.
Tom Waits, Heart of Saturday Night. This album makes me feel like Iím taking a break with a wise drinking buddy. Heís got a few lines in here that dazzle me: ďI admit that I ainít no angel. I admit that I ainít no saint. Iím selfish and Iím cruel but youíre blind. But if I exorcise my devils, well my angels may leave too. When they leave, theyíre so hard to find.Ē Waits creates more honesty and emotion in a few sentences than many novelists generate in entire books.
One last song for this playlist: High Falls by The Allman Brothers.
Itís a somewhat obscure Allman Brothers song, a beautiful 12-minute piano-centric jam that has no lyrics. I put it on repeat for hours to write the final pages of one of my other novels. I also used it on occasion for Before the Wind.