I have recently been listening to a 2-CD album called WAY OUT WEST, and it’s soundtrack music from all the truly great westerns I, and probably most of you, have watched over the years. I’ve watched so many westerns numerous times that I can usually identify which movie a song came from as soon as I hear it. My favorite western theme song would probably be from THE BIG COUNTRY. However, running a close second would be HANG ‘EM HIGH – THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY (which is the ring-tone on my cell phone) – and HOW THE WEST WAS WON.
This collection of western soundtracks is perfect for me (obviously) because of what I write. I see every single book I write as a movie, and certain of these songs seem to be just right for certain of my titles. For DO NOT FORSAKE ME, the sequel to OUTLAW HEARTS coming next summer, I chose ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, which begins with the lonely sound of a harmonica. I can “see” Jake riding into town – well armed but looking tired – leading four men, one of them draped dead over his horse, the other three looking like they WISH they were dead! I have asked my social networking guru to use that song when developing a book trailer for those books.
Music is such a “mood maker.” Most people have romantic thoughts when hearing romantic music – want to jump up and dance when they hear hard rock (or in my case, remember their “hippie” days of the 60’s) – feel closer to God when listening to religious music – dance around when hearing hip-hop – etc. Our favorite music can be very valuable to our writing. I have often written whole scenes while listening to certain music because the song or songs helped me visualize a scene or better get the “feel” of a scene.
Listening to great western-themed music is a big help in describing a gunfighter or lawman, or even writing about the courage of pioneer women. Most of all it’s wonderful inspiration for bringing forth the “Great West” that I have traveled and recorded. Music like THE BIG COUNTRY makes it so easy to remember how big, big, big and magnificent the western landscape is – the grandeur of the Rockies, the Big Horn Mountains or the Sierras. And in between are vast, vast prairies, deserts and plains where a man can see for miles and miles with not one obstruction. It’s all beautiful and grand and something mankind could never create on his own. But it’s harsh country and at one time was untamed and full of danger from both man and animal, as well as the elements – all food for great story plots!
When I listen to my favorite music, especially that with a western theme, I usually end up crying, feeling sometimes frustrated that few others see the West as I do – majestic, moving, full of fabulous history, a symbol of the pioneer spirit and of courage and the love of freedom. When I look through the book I have on gun laws, the farther west you go, the more lenient are the laws about open carry and even concealed weapons. I would not suggest trying to outlaw private ownership and carrying of guns in states like Texas and Montana, or Wyoming and Nevada. I think they would secede from the Union before they would give up those rights! I LOVE that about the West – still so independent and patriotic and in many places, still like the “Old West” – so many places where old gold towns have been preserved and are now tourist sites where you can watch reenactments of gun fights or go down into a real gold mine and see it for yourself.
For anyone writing, I suggest using “Mood Music” to set your mind into whatever your story is about. If you want a listing of my favorite mood music, just listen to my Playlist below!
And if you are a true writer, you will never look at your writing as work. Writing is fun – and if you’re serious about it, the writing should come first, even if you work full time. I could go into a several-page blog about the things I’ve gone through and still kept writing – but that’s another blog. Suffice it to say for now that listening to your favorite music while writing can be a tremendous help!