Thursday, November 02, 2006

A One and a Two and a ...

Posted by Helen

Inspiration comes in many forms. There’s no doubt that one person’s muse can very well be another’s mental block. But there’s something about music, I think, that touches everyone.

I love music. New stuff, old stuff, you name it. Women musicians, eh. I can take em or leave em. I am, however, particularly enthralled with male voices. There’s something about the raspy, soul-filled sound of testosterone that does it for me. Always has. Always will. Give me a man singing passionately about anything and he’ll have me in the palm of his hand.

When I was a teenager I used to hang out in my bedroom for hours at a time listening to the radio or one of the very few albums I owned. I remember laying on the floor with my one and only Bobby Sherman album propped up in front of me, his voice trickling out of my cheap speakers and thinking, “Come and get me, Bobby.” (Not really, but it sounds like something I might have done.) Bread, the Eagles, Bruce Springsteen. I always figured I’d marry a rock star, or at least a man who could sing.

Even so, I can’t listen to most music when I’m writing, the voices and the lyrics stop me cold. But for getting my engine revved or putting me in a creative mood, nothing beats music. In the car, when I’m cooking, cleaning, I love being taken away with music.

Rock, alternative, classic, blues, from Andrea Bocelli to Bruce Springsteen, I listen to it all. My mood drives the tunes.

Off the top of my head, here are some of my current favorite voices.

James Blunt
Eddie Vedder
Dave Matthews
Bob Dylan (I know, I know. He doesn’t turn me on, but he can make me cry)
Adam Levine of Maroon 5

I could go on and on.

What kind of music inspires you? A particular singer, style, a man’s voice, a woman’s voice, what does it for you?


Betina Krahn said...

Helen, you've got one of my favorites in a photo: Bono.

But I'm crazy about New Age stuff and techno music, "world" music, as well as some of the new classicists like Gorecki and John McMillan. Cusco, Shahin and Sephir, John Serrie's space music, Narada's entire catalog, also natural soundtracks and some jazz. Love Pink and Sheryl Crowe and B.B. King and the cello of YoYo Ma and Aerosmith and Santana and (heaven help me)Motley Crue.

But for singers, I'm crazy about John Mayer of late. I actually sing along with him. In the car. And Phil Collins. And Nelly Furtado-- except she goes places vocally that I can't imagine much less sing along with.

When I write, I have to depend on my non-lyrics music. . . the Billy McLaughlin, Carlos Nakai, Ottmar Liebert's. . . and also soundtracks. For certain kinds of writing, the soundtracks of Pirates of the Caribbean, King Kong, Far and Away, Robin Hood-Prince of Thieves, The Last of the Mohicans and others. Lots of emotion and movement in that music. It helps when writing action scenes and moody, emotional stuff. Well, as moody and emotional as I can get.

The other thing when I'm writing is that the music needs to come through headphones. I swear that having the music sound like it's originating in my own head stimulates cortical activity. . . I think better with it there!

:) Betina

Helen Brenna said...

Wow! I thought I was eclectic. Headphones are an interesting idea. I'll have to give that a shot.

scrapperjen said...

Music has always been in my life. I can't imagine not having it. I listen to almost everything - not a big gangsta rap fan but other than that - I'll at least give it a try. The music I listen to always seems to depend on my mood and what I'm doing.

I, like you, enjoy the male voice more than the female voice. For instance, have you heard Josh Turner's deep bass - mmmmm!!!!!!! As far as women, it usually takes a really strong voice or one with a big range to get my attention. I'm not a fan of whiny tones but really, something about a male, husky voice....oh, yea!!!!!!

My very favorite genres are country and 80s pop.

Ok, so now I have to go find something to listen to....

Michele said...

I like a variety, too. Anything from Metallica to The Monkees, to Korn, System of a Down, Adam Ant, Bond, Sabicas (flamenco guitarist), Def Leppard, Linkin Park or the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang soundtrack, to name a few.

I also love movie soundtracks like Last of Mohicans, because there's one song in there that just makes you yearn, and you know 'he will find her!'.

Any Irish, Scottish influenced soundtrack is good. Ned Devine is a great one.

My favorite male voice? Chris Cornell, who started with Soundgarden and is now in AudioSlave. That voice... Oh! I think I have to go listen to him sing Like A Stone right now.

Betina Krahn said...

Jen-- I'm with you on the lame voice thing. Josh Turner-- wow. I'll have to hear more from him.

Michele, LOL! Def Leppard and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It sure must be fun listening at your house!

Helen, this so so cool. I love talking music and getting new ideas from other writers.

:) Betina

Betina Krahn said...

Oops, Jen. "Lame" voice was supposed to be MALE voice.



Helen Brenna said...

Jen, I've not listened to Josh Turner. I'll check him out. The only women singers I can think of that I really like are Sheryl Crow, Pink - more harder rock stuff.

Michele, thanks for the Ned Devine soundtrack idea. I HAVE to that! That was the best movie, so I'm sure the music is great. And yes, Audioslave's sound is awewome! Didn't know the lead singer's name until now.

Betina, yes, this is fun!

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Hi, Helen! I went to music school. I love music. I rarely buy it. All I do in life -- pretty much -- is take care of my children and read romance novels and write about them. Pathetic.

But here's what happens with me and music. I buy a CD I love and play it about 3 months straight. I think I started this as a kid w/out a lot of money, so if I bought an album, it was one I really really wanted. Queen "Night at the Opera." Janice Ian. Jethro Tull.

Anyway, my kids refer to the first three months we moved to MN as "the Dave Mathews Period." See what I'm sayin?

I always feel a little inadequate when I visit blogs where folks (you for instance) actually know what's hot.

But can I tell you, and I think you know me well enough to understand that I'm not off the deep end, but I listen to a Christian radio station in the car w/ my kids. Much easier to explain religion than sex and drug references to kids.

Helen Brenna said...

Michelle, you're not pathetic. Trust me. Tell us how hold your kids are and then everyone will COMPLETELY understand. My kids are 12 and 17. Try and throw a christian radio station at them and they'd look at me at if I'd grown horns, or a tail, or wings ...

You'll get your life back. Some day. And then you'll wish they were little again. Wow, does that suck or what.

Lois, you listening here?

anne frasier said...

right now i'm really into twin cities bands. i think minneapolis is going to make a splash on the music scene again, and it's already happening with bands like the hold steady and tapes n' tapes. a band called signal to trust has a new cd coming out in two weeks, and it's AMAZING. another great local band is superhopper. i'm also a big fan of the old local bands like the replacements, husker du, grant hart. grant hart is still amazing. the weisman art museum is going to have a bob dylan retrospective exhibit soon. maybe january... i can't remember right now.

Helen Brenna said...

You know, Anne, we do have an amazing musical community here in the Twin Cities and I don't get out often enough to enjoy it. I'll keep an eye out for the bands you've mentioned.