Reflecting on Song Choices

I thought I’d take a moment to go back and reflect on my exactly how my book Reflection in the Music came about and how it ties into the Discover Challenge this week. After all, music plays a huge role in my writing and was essential in the creation of my novella. The publishing of my first book was huge for me, so as I work to publish my next book I can’t help but to sometimes think back to a few years ago when I said to myself I wanted to publish.

It all started with a broken heart and a Billie Holiday song. Good Morning Heartache. In 2012 I wrote a scene that heavily revolved around that song. The scene was one of the main characters looking back on her past with Billie Holiday singing in the background egging her on. Might as well get used to you hanging around. Good morning heartache. Sit down. That song set the tone for the character who later became known as Pea. She’s sad, she’s confused and she’s invited heartache into her life by not letting go of her past to be able to embrace her present. Miss Holiday recorded more than one version of this song, but the version shared here is most haunting and what really motivated the character of Pea.

Sherri, the best friend of Pea, existed back in the original drafts of yesteryear, but didn’t initially have the presence to warrant a theme song. Finally, after beginning the developments of the other characters it hit me. Vanity 6 whose lead singer was Vanity aka Denise Matthews. Sherri’s life doesn’t totally parallel that of Denise’s, but vanity is a tough hurdle for Sherri to overcome. To introduce Sherri, I used a number of Vanity 6 and Prince references, even a nod to the Mary Jane Girls, however, Nasty Girl is Sherri.

Melissa. Her character contains such innocence and naivete. Writing her introductory chapter is what inspired the title Reflection in the Music. I remember watching a documentary on Minnie Riperton a few years ago and being blown away and saddened at the same time. She was such a sweet spirit and her amazing vocal capabilities reflected that. You could hear it in the way she sang, even when the lyrics she sang weren’t all that innocent. Totally the opposite of the Nasty Girl, but a powerful delivery still.

Finally, there’s Jane. Jane has lived with me for years and she may one day get her own book. There’s so much to tell about her. Ultimately, a song my Miss Donna Summer was what I most associated with her. The song really describes her starting point in this story.

I had several other songs on the playlist, too as I made my way through this book. Every now and then I’d listen to something different, but mostly kept the same songs on repeat. An eclectic and unusual mix: R. Kelly’s Cookie, Beyonce’s Yonce’, Otis Redding’s Try a Little Tenderness, Rihanna’s B**** Better Have My Money, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Led Zeppelin, Ro James, Van Hunt. I’d gain energy from certain songs and play them incessantly until I finished the scene or chapter I was writing. The same handful of songs kept me going, getting into the mood of writing and brainstorming.

The story I wanted to tell was inspired by a song by Dinah Washington entitled What a Difference a Day Makes. How much can happen over a 24-hour period? How can something as seemingly insignificant, something most consume as entertainment, a song have an influence over your entire life? The focus, however isn’t just on music, but on anything that people don’t consider significant. Things we mindlessly take in not realizing that they can and do have an impact.

How do you feel after you’ve listened to Good Morning Heartache on repeat for an hour or few? Well, I felt every bit of what Pea felt, not only because I lived some of it, but because the somberness and tone of the song and Billie Holiday’s voice are enough to move you and even depress you. It set the mood for what was Pea’s life at the time of her introduction. After you’ve listened to Nasty Girl and All Night Long by the Mary Jane Girls repeatedly do you not feel like the baddest chick around? I know I do. Every song choice was deliberate. Just wait until I reveal the playlist for the book I’m currently writing.

© LeTara Moore, 2016

 

Song

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