Under the Influence

Music has always been a very influential part of my life. It is hard for me to remember a day without the presence of some song or other. I’ve talked before about how music (and books) are sacred to me. Musicians are storytellers, and as a storyteller I feel a connection with them that goes beyond just enjoying their talents. Certain music has the ability to reconnect me with my past, transport me places, allow me the opportunity to experience old emotions, people. I’ve been moved to tears by music more times than I can count, and each time I’ve been grateful for the experience.

Music also fuels my writing.

There was a time when I needed silence to work, and any outside distraction was a detriment. I don’t know what changed, but now I cannot compose anything without some music playing. It influences the direction of my writing, the tone, the development. I know certain scenes in my first novel were created in direct response to what was on the stereo at the time I was writing them.

And I have so much  of it.



Hundreds of vinyl records. Thousands of compact discs. A few lonely cassette tapes.

I’m always acquiring more as well. The more new stuff that I add to the collection, the more some albums get forgotten. Some albums have not been played in years, maybe decades.

In order to try and remember the lost ones, I determined to listen to each of my CD’s (in reverse alphabetical, reverse chronological order) over a two year period. I call it “The Great CD Listening Adventure. I started in the fall of 2016 and just moved through L and into the letter K this morning (L7 to Kylesa, in case you were wondering).

Because some albums have not aged well, I give myself some outs- I play everything, but if after three songs, I’m not feeling it, the disc gets yanked (set on the pile to take to my local record store where I can get store credit). I can skip live albums and greatest hits collections. Singles are also optional. Otherwise, it’s every album by every artist. It’s been so much fun. I’ve rediscovered some forgotten gems, and realized that I’ve lost interest in some bands completely.

My tastes have always been all over the place, ranging from bubblegum pop to Black Metal and most everything in between. I firmly believe that there is a gem in every genre, and that some of the best music ever made is being created right now. If you’re wondering, disagreeing, curious, I can give you a nice list of artists to consider.

What about you? What sort of role does music play in your life, your writing? When authors use music, does it have any affect on the way you perceive a scene?

Who are some of your favorite artists? Who are you listening to right now? Tell me all about your love of music, please.


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About Ryan Carty

There are some who call me, Tim?

8 responses to “Under the Influence”

  1. jmh says :

    Beautiful post. Music has a profound effect on me as well. It can be healing, motivating, calming, inspiring. I could never get over a break-up or a death without it. Sometimes I don’t listen to it for a while, and I forget how powerful it is.

    Sadly, I can’t play anything while I’m writing. I need silence. I’ve even tried instrumental numbers, but they take me out of the story and I catch myself listening to the melody. I really wish I could write to music, but I’ve found I can read blogs and respond to comments with music playing, unless the post I’m reading is super complicated.

    Lately, I’ve been listening to Disturbed’s version of “Sound of Silence” a lot, Pentatonix’s cover of “Hallelujah,” and my friend’s latest rap track, “The Passion.” I love his raw emotion and anger. It speaks to me. (https://soundcloud.com/srvent)

    • fenster says :

      It sounds like you really get into whatever you’er listening to, which shows a close connection to music. It can’t easily be background for you, which is similar to what I experience. It can make my writing with music playing complicated, but somehow I’m able to bridge that. Or maybe I’m full of crap.

      I’ll check out the soundcloud and report back.

  2. Liesbet says :

    Now that is a CD collection! I have always liked silence when I worked, whether it was studying for school or writing a blog or article. While I enjoy listening to music, especially alternative rock, I always seem to forget doing it, even in the car or when doing other stuff that doesn’t need concentration. Contrary to you, adding to your collection, I got rid of all my CDs (and much more) while I was in Belgium (except for the ones made by and given by friends). Downsizing was needed!

    • fenster says :

      The music collection is the only thing that gets larger (well that and my belly). Everything else is getting smaller. Stuff gets in the way, most of the time. When it comes to the music collection, I can never have enough. Maybe I need an intervention? Nah, I’d likely run away screaming.

  3. KatAllred says :

    I loved reading this post. You’ve given me the gift of turning me on to some really good music over the years. Thanks, kid.

  4. aploplexy says :

    You’ll have to excuse me, I’m going back through your blog and enjoying…

    When Scott is home there is always music in the house. If he isn’t playing it himself he is playing DJ. We sit for hours bouncing all over on every whim. That being said, I don’t really listen to much music when he is gone. But when I do I get really into something for a while and listen to it over and over, move on, come back. Honestly your post makes me realize I’m sort of lazy about music and don’t make it a priority to get it going in the house. I’m always much happier when music is playing. So I guess its not a question of what is playing now, because there isn’t anything. But I think I’ll get off my butt and put on some Lightnin Hopkins.

    • fenster says :

      I’m glad you’re going back and enjoying. I’m always willing to talk about any old entry. I think growing up in a house where music was always present had a huge influence on me. I’m driven by it and get really quite depressed if I go to long without it. Right now, I’m going through those *new puppy* blues and I’m listening to music while she sleeps next to my desk. It makes my heart feel lighter, and in many ways, more normal (for me). I think I would be lost without it.

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