For the first time in a long time, I was listening to CDs on the car stereo as I drove back from Farmington (New Mexico) on the 14th, when I started feeling once again the latent but powerful emotions I associate with certain songs. The songs in question were Puddle of Mudd’s “Spaceship” from Songs in the Key of Love and Hate and “Would?” from Alice in Chains’s Dirt. When I was not that much younger than I am now, I used to listen to a broad range of music (from classical to hard rock to New Age and more) almost constantly. Therefore it will not be surprising if I state that others that stir me range from ACDC’s “Back in Black” and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” to Mussorgsky’s “Night on Bald Mountain” and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, and, for a complete change of pace, to Enya’s “Orinoco Flow” and Michael Gettel’s San Juan Suite, both of which seem to stir not a tumult of emotions, but instead have the opposite effect and cause me to almost drift away on a sea of tranquility.
As I am sure is the case with most people, I find all my favorite songs enjoyable, but there were, and still are, some that stir me deeply and can even now resurrect feelings of intense excitement and passion as if I were reliving my “Glory Days” (which, by the way, is an excellent Springsteen tune that really hits home these days).
Out of those that stir my emotions the most, are a select group that have a certain je ne sais quois, a combination of primal rhythm, deep-toned vocalization, and soul-stirring guitar riffs, that do not stimulate the intellect as much as they instigate remote, subconscious parts of the mind to coalesce into a riot of images shaping themselves into the essential kernel of some grim tale that I know I can nurture, expand, and carefully, painstakingly mold into a narrative that would enthrall Dante or Milton–had I the time or unswerving diligence to concentrate on its writing.
“Enter Sandman” by Metallica is an excellent example of this. Even though the song is about the destruction of a family (according to Wikipedia), something about it compels me to write an intricate novel of espionage, assassination, betrayal, deception, and the inner horrors of the human psyche that paces back and forth in the recesses of my mind like a tiger in a cage, watching for an opportunity to spring forth into the light of day upon an unsuspecting yet willing audience. I have probably 20,000-30,000 or more words in the current draft of this story and I will probably trash most of these the next time I sit down to tackle this task. One day I will have to dedicate myself to finishing the story, because this is the only way I know I will be able to rid myself of the tiger’s pacing and of his relentless stare that bores into the back of my neocortex. As my life stands now, between chores at home and working 50-60 hours per week at my day job, I can find little time during an average week to work on the various short stories, novelettes, and novellas I have started over the past year.
Sad to say, I have two or three good novels that have been waiting over a decade or more for their genesis. Probably with each of them I associate some tune from my more turbulent past, if not with the entire work, then with at least some scene that plays over and over in my head like a teaser clip from a movie trailer.
For me, this is one of the delicious agonies of being a writer. I have so many fascinating concepts whirling through my head that I just know instinctively can be great works and that I enjoy revisiting whenever I have a few seconds to daydream but the lack of time in my daily life stymies their creation.
My question to you tonight, is are there musical works that inspire you to create works of horror and terror?