A couple weekends ago I was driving the family up to Sparky’s grandmother’s house for dinner. I was absently singing along with the radio when Train’s newest love song “Marry Me” came over the speakers. Normally, I’m not a big Train fan but I found myself getting lost in the lyrics. Before I knew what was happening the lonely country road in front of me melted away and I found myself looking at a man and a woman. They seemed to be in some sort of argument. The man is hovering over the woman, he seems dark, dangerous. The woman looks frightened and scared. I lightly shook my head to dispel the illusion in front of me, but the music’s lyrics snuck past my guard.
Together can never be close enough for me/Feel like I am close enough to you/ You wear white and I’ll wear out the words I love you
The image of the couple became sharper in my mind. The woman was dressed in a peach summer dress that danced around her legs as the breeze from the ocean kicked it up. The man was barefoot with the bottom of his pants wet from the incoming tide. He looked disheveled, unkempt, crazy. His eyes were dark and his grip was so tight around her slender wrist that his fingers where white from the exertion to keep her close. She tried to pull away from his grip but he only pulled her tighter to him. She frantically looked over her shoulder, silently begging him to let her go.
Why? Who was coming? Was it another man? Who were these people? The scene did nothing to match the song that played in the background but my mind wouldn’t let it go.
The man used his free hand to cup the back of her neck and brought her face back to his. He pleaded with her to marry him, to be with him, to choose him. He pleaded with her to let him be the one that wakes up with her every day – that gets to fall asleep with her body resting safely in his arms each night. I felt his desire, his need, his desperation. The woman seemed to relax in his hold. She rested her forehead against his chest and sighed almost like she has been waiting for him to say these things. But why? I needed to know how they got there? What were the circumstances surrounding this encounter? Why was he begging? Why is she so special? Why…am I driving on the wrong side of the road?
Whoops. As soon as I righted the car I checked the rear view mirror to make sure the kids were alright. The oldest was trying desperately to stay awake while the other one was clapping mindlessly along with the music. One glance to my right and I noted that Sparky was crouched down on the floorboard of the passenger seat praying for his life, his usual place while I drive. So good, no one noticed my little swerve.
Music. Its the only thing that I know that can spur inspiration with one beat, one chord, one musical note. The funny thing about it is that the song doesn’t have to match the scene that you envision. More often than not I find myself listening to a song when inspiration hits me and takes me in a totally different direction than the song. Take for instance my little scenario from above. If you listen to Train’s latest single, its a light-hearted ditty about seeing a girl in a cafe and wanting to be with her, marry her even. If only he had the courage to say hello.
The scene that transpired in my head started out dark, brooding. The hero looked menacing at first, which does not go with the song, yet that was where inspiration led me. Then that one line crept past my defenses and the scene became clearer. He wasn’t trying to scare her, he didn’t want to take her away unwillingly. He wanted to beg her to stay. All he wanted was her love. It became heart-breaking to me. I needed to know more. I needed to write it.
As soon as we walked into his Nana’s house and said our obligatory hellos I dove into the deep dark recesses of my purse/diaper bag, a bag Mary Poppins would be jealous of, to find my idea notebook. And I wrote. And wrote. And when I got home from that dinner, I wrote some more. I have no idea what I’m going to do with it, but I wrote it because when inspiration taps me on the shoulder who am I to turn it away?
What about you? Do you find inspiration through music? Do you write to music? If so, what kind? What song, if any, has inspired you to write a great scene?