What do those four things have in common, other than being convenient markers of my adolescence? I used to be unable to hear Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill or Oasis’s (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? without being transported to Anne Rice’s Lousiana or the Iowa of Peter Hedges. This GalleyCat post on music to write by made me think about the ways in which I experience music and reading together. As a person who tends to listen to the same album incessantly, not switching up till I never want to hear it ever again, there have sometimes been albums intrinsically tied to a novel I was reading–though apparently the effect lessens over time, because I now can’t recall which CD above went with which book. Every time I hear Brandi Carlile, it calls to mind a novel by a client that I devoured in a couple sittings with The Story on repeat in the background. (I also experience this with apartments: Coldplay’s A Rush of Blood to the Head = my senior year in Ditmas/Flatbush; John Mayer’s Room for Squares is two apartments later, on the Upper East Side. My musical taste = ever so slightly embarassing.)
I’ve always loved the power that music has to do this–feeling reinserted into the world of a beloved novel can sometimes be like coming home.
I recently discovered a new version of this phenomenon: my client, Michael Gavaghen had been having a bit of trouble diving back into his novel to do the edits he and I had discussed. When he’d first worked on the novel, he’d been listening to a lot of blues music, and since then had shifted his listening habits. In fact, he’d been working on another novel as well. When it came time to revisit the first novel, he had trouble re-immersing himself in that world. But as soon as he put back on the blues, he recaptured the rhythm and voice of the novel. Handy trick!
Does anyone else experience this, either as a writer or a reader? And does anyone actually have a strong sense memory from simply reading about music rather than hearing it?