Anyone who has spent time around me knows that music is very important to me, despite not being able to play a lick of it. I listen to it all the time, though my car stereo is currently broken, which is a major crisis in my life.
Naturally, I have a playlist for writing. Actually, I have several of them: a general one and then a specific one for major projects. Becoming Phoebe is one of those projects; I have a very specific list of things to have playing while working on it.
The first thing to note is that Phoebe would hate just about everything on that list. She likes punk and industrial, especially some of the more esoteric and non-melodic stuff. Bands she likes include Coil, Throbbing Gristle, and Einstürtzende Neubauten. Props if you’re at all familiar with them (I wasn’t until halfway through the rough draft.)
The things in my Phoebe playlist, in their current order:
Marillion: “Brave” – I confess that I’ve never listened to the lyrics closely enough to really figure out what this album is about (which, for me, involves reading them as I listen) but it projects a mood that matches how I feel about Phoebe.
Sylvan: “Sceneries” – This album came out about four weeks after I started writing the rough draft. Here, some of the lyrics really do fit. That’s especially true in “The Words That You Hide, Pt 2,” which features breathing. In the book, Phoebe learns to meditate and uses Caityn’s breathing as a focus. The rest of the album matches what I want well, but hearing that piece for the first time as I was getting going was serendipitous.
Coldplay: “X&Y” – It’s schmaltzy. It’s . . .
(My prog rock cred just jumped out the window and ran screamng down the street.)
. . . simple. It’s corny. Nevertheless, I really like it and it really fits this story. It’s only the first half of the album I listen for Phoebe, but a song like “Fix You,” as sappy as it is, is just appropriate. The line, “I want to love you but I don’t know if I can,” from “Talk” is also very fitting.
Gabriel Yared & Others: “The English Patient Soundtrack” – The English Patient is my favorite movie and it’s influential on “Becoming Phoebe” in several different ways. The soundtrack is powerful, though, again, some will find it over the top. “Read Me to Sleep,” the track that plays when Almasy returns to the cave where he left Katherine is shattering.
Coldplay: “A Rush of Blood to the Head” – Again, only about half of the album is in this playlist. I have no idea whether it fits lyrically, but it also produces the right feelings to work on the story.
The Alan Parsons Project: “Gaudi” – This is my favorite Parsons album, which most fans find strange; they generally pick either “Tales of Mystery and Imagination” or “Turn of a Friendly Card.” This album is in almost all of my writing playlists, because it is about the process of art and how it develops meaning and speaks to me as a writer rather than as someone writing a particular set of characters.
Marillion: “Happiness Is the Road, Part 1” – This album is about the process of finding happiness. While Phoebe takes a different path in that direction than the album does, finding happiness is one of the themes of the novel.
Peter Gabriel: “So” – It is a lot like the last album in terms of how it works for me. My only regret is that I have never been able to pull a decent copy of “In Your Eyes” from the VHS concert film “P.O.V.” to slip into the album version.
Sylvan: “Posthumous Silence” – The premise of this abum is a father reading his daughter’s diary that he finds after she commits suicide. It won’t take reading very far into “Becoming Phoebe” to see the comparisons. It’s powerful, to the point that the band had to have another project (their album “Presets”) that they were working on at the same time because they couldn’t work just on it.
Queen: “Made in Heaven” – While Queen pretty much never made an album I don’t like, this is my favorite. It was assembled as Freddie Mercury was dying. While the specific theme of dying doesn’t match Phoebe, the overall attitude about the world does.
Phil Collins: “. . . But Seriously” – I just shot whatever was left of my prog credibility. This is another one where only half of the songs are in my list.
Marillion: “Beautiful” – Just a single song, from their “Afraid of Sunlight” album. Very appropriate to Phoebe.
Antonio Vivaldi: “Gloria in D Major: Et in Terra Pax” – This is the version from the soundtrack to the movie “Runaway Train,” another one of my favorites, an existential action movie with no gunfire. It’s slower than most versions and very haunting.
Coldplay: “Viva la Vids or Death and All His Friends” – Yes, yes, I really like Coldplay. Give it a rest.