Music To Write By . . .

Has anyone else heard The Piano Guys?  I saw them on TV the other night for the first time and fell head-over-heels in love with their music. When they played Rolling in the Deep by Adele, I felt like I was hearing the melody for the first time. Their two CDs are winging their way to house, or maybe driving in the mail truck. I live a mile from an Amazon fulfillment center, and there are times I wish I could just stop by and pick stuff up, but that’s another conversation.

The Piano Guys CD are going into what I call the soundtrack pile.  These are CDs I play while I write.  The music is all over the road–everything from country to chamber music to Led Zeppelin.

A quick word about CDs . . . I have an iPod but I can’t write with ear-buds or even headphones.  Having music in the background blocks out distractions, but having it in ear is just too much. So, old fashioned or not, there’s an three-disc player in my office that usually one.

Here are some of the mixes for my books . . .

For The Maverick Preacher and The Outlaw’s Return, I listened to a lot of Johnny Cash.  His song “Hurt” captures the feelings of despair, regret and acceptance with amazing clarity.

Any Led Zeppelin fans?  I’m not really big on Led Zep, but The Ballad of Evermore played constantly for  West of Heaven, especially during the scenes where Ethan grieves his wife in one breath and admits to loving Jayne at the same time.

One of my favorite performers is Greg Buchanan, a Christian harpist who plays both hymns and other music.  No lyrics, just amazing harmonies. I heard him in concert in the middle of writing Of Men and Angels and still play that music regularly.

Movie soundtracks appeal to me as well. The Piano is pretty strange movie, and the music reflects the edginess.  Love it!  I played this a lot for my old HHs.

The soundtracks for my Love Inspired Historicals tended to be more country.  The soundtrack to Broken Bridges, the movie with Toby Keith as an alcoholic country singer getting his act together, played constantly during Home Again.  Then there’s the ultimate go-to music for any of my westerns. That’s Marty Robbins’ Gunfighter Ballads, especially “El Paso.”

This list wouldn’t be complete with a mention of country singer Gary Allan.  I heard Smoke Rings in the Dark  driving home from work one day, went to Wal-Mart and bought it. More often than not, Gary’s music occupies one of the three CD slots, sometimes more than three.  He’s got a whiskey voice, more emotion than just about anyone, and gut-wrenching lyrics that feed this writer’s imagination.  I have a lot of favorites. Among them are Loving You Against My Will, Along the Way, See If I Care, It Ain’t the Whiskey and  Just Got Back From Hell.

Another CD I play a lot is Adele.  No surprise there!  Right now, I’m listening to Celtic Woman, Alison Krauss and Civil Wars. What about you?  What kind of music do you like?  I’m always looking for something new.

Victoria Bylin
Victoria Bylin is under contract with Bethany House Publishers for two inspirational contemporary romances.Prior to jumping to the present day, she wrote westerns for Harlequin Historical and Love Inspired Historical. Her books have finaled in the ACFW Carol Awards, the Rita Awards and RT Magazine’s Reviewers’ Choice Awards. She and her husband live in Lexington, Kentucky and have two grown sons. You can learn more about Vicki at www.victoriabylin.com

24 Comments

  1. I listen to Chris Botti(a jazz saxophonist), Michael Buble, and Norah Jones. I have several of their CDs, but I also listen to country and top 40. It just depends on the WIP. Each WIP has its own soundtrack, though.

    LindaC

  2. I’m so grateful Johnny Cash kept recording. He never lost his style 🙂

  3. Vicki,
    Interesting post! I have never tried to write while listening to music. Not sure I could. Maybe instrumental. I get distracted easily, so I usually shut myself away in my room and work in silence.
    Have your heard The Piano Guys’ version of A Thousand Years? Amazing!
    I love Adele, too. 🙂

  4. What an eclectic play list. I LOVE it!!! Makes me feel a little less crazy with my choices. 😉

  5. I’ve loved Piano Guys since the very first song! They are amazing! Music has always been a part of my life. I think it is very powerful! Like you, I have a very “eclectic” list! I like all kinds! Thanks for the post!

  6. That is awesome!! I love it when things are shared that show just how important music is in our lives. I too, play music while I am writing, but have to confess, it’s usually Rick Sikes that I listen to. 🙂 Great Blog, Lori!

  7. My music choice depends on what I’m working on. I like listening to a lot of old school music.

  8. Piano Guys are a BIG hit around my house. We’ve been listening to them for a couple of years now, and I have them on many times while I write. Music drowns out other distractions and helps my brain to focus. Music with lyrics tempts me to sing along, so my go-to writing music is the instrumental variety. If I’m doing research or editing, then I’ll pop in something with words.

    Oh, and I love Marty Robbins’ gunfighter ballads, too. Those old west ballads are a perennial favorite.

  9. I enjoy a nice variety of music… some of my favs are Josh Groban, Enya, Maire Brennan, Moya Brennan, & Loreena McKinnett.

  10. Love, love, love the piano guys! A couple other faves right now are David Garrett and Adam Hurst. Oh, and 2cellos. I love cello! Although my current mix on Pandora has Celtic, Queenm new age, wierd Al, movie scores, cello rock… a bit of a lot of things.

    Like so many, music plays 🙂 a huge part in my writing world, both as inspiration and to block out the rest of the world.

  11. I don’t listen to music while I work, not deliberately. But sometimes I’ve got something playing. I don’t do CDs except around Christmas when I crack out my Mannheim Steamroller and Trans-Syberian Orchestra Christmas albums.
    But I do love contemporary Christian music and listen to KLOVE radio a lot. Mark Schultz is my favorite among a lot of beloved artists. Mark Schultz singing He Will Carry Me is the best song when times are hard.

  12. Hi Linda C! I like Michael Buble too…I don’t own any of his music, but I’m going to keep him in mind!

  13. Hi Karen, I haven’t heard “A Thousand Years” yet, but the CDs should arrive any minute. When it comes to actually writing, music works both ways for me–it mutes the background noise of life, but it can also be a distraction. It all depends on . . . well, I have no idea what it depends on! Every day is a little different when it comes to telling a story 🙂

  14. Hi Sherri! You and me both when it comes to Johnny Cash. Gary Allan has a song called Nickajack Cave that’s about Johnny Cash. It’s awesome!

  15. Hello Valri! The list gets even more eclectic when I add in my husband’s tastes–Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and a lot of other stuff. Among the recent favorites are the soundtracks to Michael Mann movies–Miami Vice and Collateral.

  16. Hi Jan! I’m glad you enjoyed the blog . . . It’s fun to learn about new artists.

  17. Hello Sheila! By old school do you mean Frank Sinatra? The Beatles? Kingston Trio? Let’s see . . . who else?

  18. Hello C Dees! To this day, El Paso is my No. 1 favorite song. No. 2 is “Would You Go With Me” by Josh Turner, but nothing really measures up to Marty’s old west ballads when it comes to setting the mood for an outlaw story.

  19. Hi Colleen! I’m adding those names to my mental list . . . When I start a new book, I often buy new music.

    Hi Lizzie, I saw a lot of cello music advertised when I ordered the Piano Guys. The tones of a cello are so mellow . . . I have some Yo Yo Ma around here somewhere.

  20. Hello Mary! KLOVE is the fifth button on the car radio. It gets a lot of use!

  21. Presently I’m listening to Il Volo….three young Italian singers who are wonderful. It is unbelievable that they are still teenagers and have such beautiful voices. Do yourself a favor and listen to one of their albums. I’ve driven twice to Phoenix to attend one of their concerts since they never come close to where I live.

  22. Hi Vicki, sorry to get here so late. Oh, be still my heart. Gary Allan was in Las Vegas when we were there last month, but we left that morning. Grrrrrrr.

    I personally love Brooks and Dunn even though they broke up. Oh, Gary Allan too and Luke Bryan.

    Sometimes I play “spa” music, it’s so relaxing. xox

  23. Hi Jackie! I’ve heard of Il Volo… they’re definitely on the list!

    Hello Tanya, Filly Sister! Hugs to you. Do you have Gary Allan’s “Tough All Over” CD?” It’s got some great stuff on it. I like Brooks and Dunn too. Wish they were still together, though I respect them for going their own ways. Take care and hugs.

  24. I really don’t listen to that much music, but when I do I like Tate Stevens ( winner of the X factor 2012 and hometown boy) I love his song Ordinary Angels. I also like Civil War period music Cathy Barton/ Dave Para, sound track from the movie Gettysburg and More songs from Gettysburg, I also love Glen Miller, Doris Day, The Four Lads, and old Broadway Show Tunes.

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