Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Say It With Music

by Jennie Bentley

So we're talking about music on the blog this month. Since I live in Music City - Nashville, Tennessee - I guess that's something I should probably be able to talk about, but the truth is, I don't listen to music that often. Some authors I know can't write unless they have music spurring them on. I'm the opposite; I can't concentrate on my own words if someone else's words are in the background.

That's not to say I don't like music. I do. I just can't multitask when music is playing. I either listen to it - actually sit down and listen, to the exclusion of everything else - or I prefer silence.

The funny thing is, I married a singer/songwriter. That's how I ended up in Nashville in the first place. And I admire his talent. I really do. Even if, at times, I wish he'd just shut the hell up, because his screaming at the top of his lungs in the shower is distracting me.

Songwriting is a discipline I've never been able to master. I can write. Sometimes, my sentences even approach brilliance. Or maybe I won't go quite that far, but once in a while, I manage to string words together into something that makes me happy, maybe even a little delirious. Most of the time I just write plain sentences, though. They say what I want them to say, in the best way I can say it, and they're perfectly serviceable. But every so often, on a rare blue moon, the stars align and the words come together in a way that comes off the page.

That's how I feel about a really good songwriter. The words are perfect; the kind that give me chills when I hear them.

There are authors out there who can do the same thing, of course. A friend of mine is a great admirer of Tim Hallinan. I had the pleasure of meeting Tim at Bouchercon last September, and I can attest to the fact that he's a lovely, lovely man. He told me I don't have an accent, I have a "lyrical intonation." How can you not love that?

Anyway, my friend Beth says this about Tim's writing: "I know all those words. Why can't I put them together like that?"

That's how I feel about songwriters. I know the words; why can't I put them together the same way? Why can't I write something that makes people cry? That makes them smile and laugh and feel?

Here's one that speaks to me. I can't listen to this song without tearing up. I can play it three times in a row, and cry each time. As story-songs go, it doesn't get any better than this.

So what about you? Do you like music? Or lyrics? Do you have a favorite song that brings you to tears? Or a favorite songwriter? Or for that matter a favorite author whose words make you weep with joy?

* * *

New York Times bestselling author Jennie Bentley writes the Do It Yourself home renovation mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime. Book 6, Wall to Wall Dead, will be released in September. As Jenna Bennett, she write the Cutthroat Business mysteries for her own gratification, as well as various types of romance - suspense, paranormal, and futuristic - for Entangled Publishing. Her next romance, Fortune's Hero, comes in November. You can find out more about her books and her personae on her website, www.JennieBentley.com 


Anna Jeffrey said...

How cool to be married to a songwriter in Nashville! I naturally think that because I'm a huge country music fan. .... I know what you mean about being unable to concentrate when music is playing in the background. Or music with words, that is. Instrumental music is different. I do sometimes do that. ... I also know what you mean about stringing words together. Sometimes they flow to you and other times, you wonder if you've forgotten the language.

Jenna said...

Oh, absolutely. You're so right.

Anonymous said...

And how about using the lyrics of a song as an idea for a book? I was thinking about that the other day while I was listening to a Celtic and Irish music podcast. I believe Sharyn McCrumb did it for her ballad series; haven't read those yet. Some songwriters do create amazing beautiful lyrics. Here’s the link to a favorite of mine—poetically perfect.

Love Is a Tanglewood Tree:


Anonymous said...

Make that "amazingly" beautiful lyrics.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't get that link to work. Let's see if this one works.


Anonymous said...

Great song!

One song that always makes me cry is Conway Twitty's That's My Job. Such a moving song...

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Book Publishing said...

Great song and nice lyric.
I love this song and like this video too.

Patriotic Lapel Pins said...

its really amazing post.music is a part of soul.

Venessa Liu said...

It is really cool if an anthor can write a lyric or an article about me, I will admire hime.

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