Six Songs To Inspire Your Writing
Music serves many purposes, to relax, to excite, to entertain. It can evoke a precise moment from the past, conjuring an exact time and place, its sights and scents, arousing the same emotions. It’s a reminder, an escape, a relaxant, a stimulant.
All music is providing the soundtrack to someone’s life.
But, Northern Soul, with its tales of heartbreak, betrayal and scheming is the perfect soundtrack to a psychological thriller. Loved by the teenage heroine in my novel Someone You Know here’s a handful of classics from the genre which inspired my writing.
Tainted Love by Gloria Jones: better known as a stomping eighties electro hit for Soft Cell, or even the menacing stripped back Marilyn Manson version, the original is understated by comparison. The central message of the song, that love is not always a pure and elevating emotion; it can be a dangerous addiction, which, however destructive, leaves its victim unable to break free from the allure of the bad boy or femme fatale.
You Didn’t Say A Word by Yvonne Baker: has the cinematic sweep of a spy-noir film track, a thrilling homage to John Barry’s Bond theme. But here, betrayal and intrigue and not in the form of crazed megalomaniacs intent on global domination, rather they’re manifested in thwarted romance, as the song’s narrator waits anxiously for her seducer to arrive and take her in her arms and is instead, ignored and coldly rejected.
The Snake by Al Wilson perhaps the Northern Soul classic is another word to the wise. A woman rescues a beautiful snake that’s nearly freezing to death. She takes it home and keeps it warm. Once revived the snake bites her, stating it’s plainly the woman’s fault ‘You knew darn well I was a snake before you took me in.’.
Don’t think you can change someone’s basic nature, however easy on the eye.
The Whisper’s Getting Louder by Jackie Wilson is a softer tune reflecting a mood of longing and regret. Why his lover left, Jackie never tells us, but the plaintive vocals and lack of recrimination towards his ex, suggest he knows the blame for his heartache and loneliness lie at his own door.
The Night by Frankie Valli: The pulsing bass in this intro could make you forget the bitterness of its lyrics. By the end of one night, a woman must decide to stay with her adoring partner or leave for another man promising her a dream existence. Frankie doubts the man’s sincerity and warns her how quick and final their break-up will be if she believes her new lover (perhaps he should play her You Didn’t Say A Word).
In the Midnight Hour by Wilson Picket: Not strictly speaking Northern Soul, and far more optimistic and joyful because of it, the song is a reminder of what lands us in these romantic predicaments in the first place. It’s a melodic account of frustration, anticipation and the promise of pleasure to come.
All these songs provide lessons in love, treachery and conniving that fit snugly at the heart of any crime novel.
Listen to them all on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/6UwSnIxTCjmIUxlGFBAQ4e?si=LDN6YWQfQpqouwqrmiOk2A
By Olivia Isaac-Henry
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