Thursday, October 25, 2012

Just a quick post on musical inspiration

Busy week.  They all seem to be busy weeks.

Listening to NPR's Fresh Air this morning on my commute to the day job, I heard an interview with Stephen Colbert of the Colbert Report about some of his favorite music. One of the songs he mentioned triggered my reflection on the songs I attach to some of my characters and story lines.

Colbert talked about a song by Ben Folds Five that I'd never heard of: "Best Imitation of Myself."  When he recited the lyrics, I immediately realized that it's THE song for heroine Miss Sumaki of ALWAYS A STRANGER (Book 2). "Best Imitation of Myself" touches on how we present a version of ourself to others, particularly a version we think they want or expect to see. In Miss Sumaki's situation, this version of herself is a matter of self-preservation and commercialism; the song even talks of needing to entertain others, which is exactly what her public persona requires. Over the course of the novel, the hero glimpses her true identity, her plight, and strives to know her true self.  His interest in who she really is helps her find opportunities to be her authentic self, regardless of the expectations and limitations everyone else places on her.

When I wrote NEVER TOO LATE (Book 1), I decided THE song for heroine Honoria Duchamp was Florence + the Machine's "The Dog Days Are Over." I'll admit the meaning of the lyrics are contested, but I think this song captures the way happiness rushes to Honoria, despite her reluctance to accept it, and the tone of the song captures the exuberance and intensity of joy bowling Honoria over. Perhaps the key internal conflict for Honoria throughout the story is how she avoids or deflects her own happiness by focusing on her business and her social activism. Ultimately, happiness comes at her with overwhelming force, accepting nothing less than everything from her.

Perhaps in the coming weeks I'll talk about the songs for the heroes of these stories...or maybe about the real-life Victorian love relationships I find fascinating.

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