Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Soundtrack of my Life and my Books

By Robin "Red Hot" Kaye

I’ve always been a total music junkie. Music and books have made more of an impact on my life, than just about anything else. Maybe it’s because I moved around so much as a kid, but those two things were the only constants. As long as I had my books and my albums with me, I was home. Yeah, I know I’m showing my age.

Music has given me a time line—I can tell you in which of the 30+ houses I lived when a particular song was popular. I know I lived on Ross Hall Boulevard in Piscataway NJ when the neighbor girls babysitting me sang Windy while swinging me really high on the swing set behind their house. I lived on Cleveland Avenue in New Port Richey, Florida when my sister sang Billy Don’t Be a Hero, off key on our way home from the bus stop. I lived in Reston, Virginia when in the songs Shannon and Afternoon Delight were all the rage. And on Morris Avenue in Mountain Lakes, NJ when the Bee Gees sang How Deep Is Your Love?. Get the picture?

My obsession with music continued through high school. I learned to play guitar (badly), wrote depressing songs, and started dating musicians. Eventually, I began working in the music industry—managing a singer/songwriter and his band. He’s since written songs for some heavy hitting country singers and has a few platinum records to his name, which I gotta say is pretty cool.

Is it any surprise then, that each of my books has it’s own soundtrack? I’m still listening to the soundtrack of my first book, which will probably never see the light of day. I turn it on and I’m in my book, or my characters minds, or skiing down Christmas Bowl in Sun Valley. The music takes me there.

Romeo, Romeo, Too Hot To Handle, Breakfast in Bed, and Yours for the Taking share a soundtrack that is eclectic to say the least—Death Cab For Cutie’s Coney Island, then rolls into Lou Monte’s Please Mr. Columbus (turn the ship around). The Pussycat Dolls’ Sway, Kristy MacColl’s Fairytale of New York, tons of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, Avi Vinocur’s L-Train, The Cranberries, James Taylor, Norah Jones, Landon Pigg…the list goes on. They all have one thing in common, I put it on shuffle and I’m home in Brooklyn.

When I got my first iPod, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. I swore I would never have to listen to a commercial again and I haven’t. I bring my almost 15,000 songs with me wherever I go. Right now I’m listening to Jamie Cullum sing God Only Knows with a smile on my face how about you?


Grace Burrowes said...

When I was on a tight deadline to write a Christmas Regency, I listened to the Christmas portion of Handel's "Messiah" over and over. I am really ready to give that one a rest. The classical stuff works better for letting my mind wander through plotting ideas, and when I need a burst of energy--I blush to confess--it's Wham, "Make It Big." Talk about showing my age...

Robin Kaye said...

LOL Grace! And I was embarrassed to even admit to listening to Afternoon Delight. I still have a few songs from the Partridge Family and even one by Bobby Sherman's Julie, Do Ya Love Me on my iPod.

TerriOsburn said...

It's funny that we seem to feel the same about books and music (I loved my albums!) yet I never moved my entire childhood. Same house for all but maybe three years of my childhood. Huh.

I also married a musician, but he wasn't as talented in the songwriter as yours turned out to be. I do love writing country songs, though I can do lyrics only.

I was a DJ for 8 years and I do create soundtracks for my books, kind of. But I must have silence to write, so I never listen to them while I'm writing. This causes a disconnect so hearing the songs don't immediately take me to the book.

I am only starting my 2nd MS and this one has a more fleshed out soundtrack than the last, so maybe this time will be different and I'll have that connection.

Oh, and I'm totally jealous of your iPod. I have one, but not nearly that many songs!

Cathy said...

I keep music on most of the time - fortunately even during my day job. I read somewhere that music you like releases serotonins - so call it the new happy pill

For my current story, I need to get back to SC in the 50s and 60s so lots of Beach Music: Miss Grace; Sixty Minute Man

Robin Kaye said...

@ Terri - I dated a whole lot of musicians but I married a guy who can't carry a tune in a bucket or play a darn thing. I say he loses all rhythm when he stands up.

I wonder where I got my son--he's in his school's vocal ensemble and is a bass baritone. He sings Sinatra while doing the dishes. He plays the baritone, the trumpet, the piano and fiddles with the guitar.

I write with music on, I think it keeps part of my mind occupied while the other part is creating. That's probably why I write so well at Starbucks, one part is listening to everyones conversations and the other is busy producing word count.

I have a turntable that allows me to copy my albums onto iTunes. It's not pretty, but there is something about listening to scratch albums that just gives me warm fuzzies!

@ Cathy - Oh I love beach music! I'm beginning to plot my next book. I wonder where my hero will take me and what kind of music we're going to be listening to when we get there.

Christie Craig said...


I don't play music when I write, but music from an era sure does bring back moments. Music is almost like smell for me, it immediately takes you back to that time frame. Great post. It got me thinking.


Diane Kelly said...

I can't write to music - too much for my brain to handle - but I absolutely have to listen to music when I exercise. It gets me going and helps me keep a beat. A gazillion years ago when I ran cross country as a high school freshman, I used to mentally play that funky song "Double Dutch Bus" in my head to pace myself. So embarrassing to admit that! : )

Mary G said...

Bella you are waaaay too young to know the song Afternoon Delight LOL. Must be a remake.

Right now I'm loving Bruno Mars. some Katy Perry. Just a Dream by Nelly, the usual stuff.

Robin Kaye said...

@ Christie - You're right, music is almost like a smell, it can bring you right back to where you were when you smelled or heard it. Mothballs = my grandmother's bungalow, Afternoon Delight=Reston VA.

@ Diane - That's so funny! Double Dutch Bus... Depending where my head is, music either keeps one part of my brain occupied so the other can concentrate on writing, or I find myself singing along. That's when I turn it off and try to work without it. It doesn't happen often.

@ Mary - Aw...you're so sweet to say that but unfortunately, you're wrong. Granted, I was very young, practically a preemie!

Love you, Bella!

Amanda Brice said...

I need some kind of music iomn the background when I write, but it has to be instrumental. Lyrics get in the way of the words on the computer screen.