With all the posts I’ve been writing lately about the influence of music on writing, I simply have to share this recent discovery: It’s a song-sharing site called Stereomood, but the idea is not simply to share songs. (The site is a streaming site, not a download site, so I’m sharing this because it acts like a radio station and I’m not as worried about copyright violations.) The idea behind Stereomood is that users organize playlists according to mood tags, which, let’s be honest, we’ve all been doing since the days of the blank cassette. You remember the mix tape? This whole site is a mix tape.
I’m posting this here because it reminds me of my high school friend Keith, who might have been the guy who first showed me the connection between writing and music. Maybe I made the connection myself earlier (I remember writing a passion-driven poem to the powerful cello and viola pieces from Tout les Matins du Monde, but I don’t remember when I first saw that film), or maybe I made the connection later and then remembered that Keith had beat me to it–I don’t recall the exact moment I started this association. But I do remember hanging out with him and our friend Anthony in Keith’s basement on late weekend nights, the glow of Keith’s computer monitor haunting the dark, all of us scribbling in notebooks or taking turns typing on Keith’s computer while we listened to the homemade cassette compilation Keith had labeled “Slow, Morbid Writing Songs.” It was full of dark, angsty, overblown tracks like Pink Floyd’s “The Final Cut” or Ozzy’s duet with Lita Ford or the moodier Pearl Jam tracks from Ten. And we were dark, angsty teens prone to overblowing everything, so we loved it.
Stereomood operates on the same principle. Not everything is “slow and morbid,” but the listeners associate songs with emotional moods or emotionally charged/nostalgia-driven activities, with categories like “dreamy,” “chillout,” and “road trip.” And, lo and behold, there is a whole playlist devoted entirely to writing. It’s quite a mixed bag, this particular playlist, starting with the instrumental “No Cars Go (Arcade Fire Cover)” by Maxine Cyrin and including the simple but sweeping piano movement “The Heart Asks Pleasure First” from the soundtrack to The Piano, but breaking those up with songs like the Bobby McFerrin/Jason Mraz/Israel Kamakawiwo’ole mashup “Don’t Worry, I’m Yours” and Bob Marley’s beautiful “Redemption Song” as well as the unexpected “Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover” by Black Kids and a handful of tracks by The Papercuts and Grand Archives.
The “writing” tag is actually one of the slimmer categories (it contains only 27 songs; other categories, like “candlelit dinner” or “asleep on my feet,” contains hundreds of tracks), but maybe with your help, we can add to the list and beef that playlist up. If fact, this might be a very cool opportunity for us all to share our musical writing inspirations with each other. I’m thinking of adding Mono and God Bless You! Black Emperor, for sure (there’s already a long and fascinating track by post-rock band The End of the Ocean, but Mono and GBYBE are even better).
Also, while I have everyone’s attention, let me wish all the dads out there–especially my own–a happy Father’s Day!