My e-book, “Storytelling” will be available for purchase here on this blog on the 9th of December! Mark your calendar, folks!
“My interest in making music has been to create something that does not exist that I would like to listen to. I wanted to hear music that had not happened, by putting together things that suggested a new thing which did not yet exist.”
Writing and music are two nearly inseparable worlds for me. As it so often happens, I get my writing ideas from music, whether directly, when I’m super-fascinated by the stories or meanings behind a song — or indirectly, when I’m so ingrained in what I’m listening to — that it somehow makes a conducive place in my mind for ideas and pictures to flow — even if it has nothing to do with them.
Whenever I feel that the well is dry when I’m writing, I’d pick up my guitar and sing a tune to myself, and the next thing you know, I could write with ease again.
Even my upcoming e-book, “Storytelling” is both directly and indirectly inspired by Rage Against the Machine’s cover of “Renegades of Funk” by Afrika Bambaataa. Especially the verse
“Renegades are the people with their own philosophies
They change the course of history
Everyday people like you and me”
made me think about how each and everyone of us has our own calling, our own stories to tell that could change how people think and alter their lives for the better, even if in a small way. When Zack de la Rocha sings, “No matter how hard you try, you can’t stop us now”, it really feels like nothing can stop this innate power that we all have — only it’s up to us to be willing to stay true to it.
A lot of the best art we know were created from connecting different sources of inspiration, by not being limited to a single medium.
Randy Newman (who you might know as the writer of “You Have A Friend in Me” and other songs in the Toy Story movies) is renowned for writing and singing in the voices of characters rather than sounding out his own views and opinions, similar to how a novelist writes. And that’s what makes his songs like “I Love L.A.” imaginative and fun to listen to.
Jack Kerouac’s distinctive writing style is heavily influenced by his love for jazz music. When you read his works like “On the Road” and “Desolation Angels”, you would encounter the same spontaneity and freedom that you could find in jazz. Kerouac emulated beat and rhythm in his writing, wanting it to flow like a lively and expressive jazz song.
Ernest Hemingway developed his sparse writing style from his experience as a cub reporter. He was careful to make his articles short and straightforward, believing that big words do not have to be ones that send you to the dictionary. This stuck with him for the rest of his life.
Anton Chekhov’s career as a full-time medical doctor certainly had an impact on his writing. With a nearly clinical objectivity, he sought to incorporate acute realism in his writing — rejecting typical plots, refusing to pigeonhole his characters into good and evil, and describing life as it is, as well as ruthlessly omitting unnecessary details. He approached his writing plan methodologically, much like how a doctor would diagnose a patient and has his tools ready.
It’s also interesting to learn about music that is directly inspired by books.
The Rolling Stones wrote one of their staple songs, “Sympathy for the Devil” based on the novel “Master and Margarita” by Mikhail Bulgakov, a satirical story in which the Devil visits the formally atheistic Soviet Union. The Rolling Stones put in their spin in it, as Mick Jagger sings in the Devil’s narrative, priding himself for being responsible behind history’s gruesome events.
Led Zeppelin wrote their epic songs such as “The Battle of Evermore” based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s writings.
And how could I not mention Metallica. A lot of their best-known songs are based on books they’ve read — the songs are musical interpretations of the stories and their themes, that you experience the same sense of desperation as you’d find in those books.
I’d have to thank them for getting me into literature. I was thirteen, wearing my Metallica t-shirt the moment I bought a copy of Dalton Trumbo’s “Johnny Got His Gun”, of which the song “One” is based on — a story about a soldier who becomes horrendously injured in a war, that he ends up being a prisoner of his own body.
Metallica also wrote “For Whom the Bell Tolls” based on the hill battle scene in Hemingway’s novel of the same name. They wrote “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” based on Ken Kesey’s “One Fell Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and other songs like “The Call of Ktulu” and “The Thing that Should Not Be” based on H.P. Lovecraft’s horror stories.
As a takeaway from this article, try letting your different interests get to know each other. See where that might lead to — and on top of everything, have fun.
Oh and in case you’re wondering, I had my idea for this article while I was listening to Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Cosmo’s Factory” album. I’m listening to it right now too as I write this.