Of all the “Writer’s Music” entries I’ve placed here so far, only one (sans my Christmas posts) has been a song with lyrics. This is the second.
Unlike most of my music shared, however, this isn’t a song that helped me into a character’s head, or visualize a scene.
Music engages more than just the ears. It brings colors to shape. It beckons scents from the breeze ever blowing just above our hair. And sometimes, it drops a piece of itself, a thing of some sort, into our hands.
Just so with Susanne Sundfør’s “Silicone Veil.”
I had never heard of the artist before my dear school friend Anne Clare, now online with her own writing as The Naptime Author, sent me a mix of songs that have helped inspire her own writing. A fabulous present—I had only heard of one group on the entire album.
Normally I’m skeptical about newish fandangled lyrical music, I say as I harumph and thump my fist like my grandfather in the midst of a cribbage match. Oftentimes it all seems too weepy, repetitive, lacking any actual vocals and/or instruments, or as Grandpa would say, “Too loud!” (This from the man who was pretty much deaf already.)
Thanks to Anne and her own Writer’s Music, I experienced an epiphany for Wynne. When? Not sure, but it was a cold spring night, driving, listening, and knowing: That’s it.
Wynne of Beauty’s Price wasn’t much more than a brainstorm at that point. I was still finishing up Middler’s Pride, but I knew I had to have at least a few allusions to BP in order to establish a connection. I knew Wynne had a love, and another suitor, someone dangerous and powerful, who wouldn’t leave her alone. Wynne needed a tangible symbol of true love, something to reflect the fragility, steadfastness, and hope. Jewelry? Eh, that’s too easily noticed by nosy family members. Clothing, too. And tattoos weren’t exactly acceptable for her class in medieval-ish times. A mark on a tree somewhere? Pfft. Can’t carry that along. Dried flowers, or a lock of hair? Easily hidden, but just as easily crushed, too, or lost.
Then this song came on…
…and its lyrics gave me the answer:
Beauty is poisonous
Oh heaven must be an iron rose
YES. There. The boy she loves is the smithy’s son of another village; of course he’d make her a token, something she could hold, caress, carry with her whenever she’s away from him.
“Oh…” Mother spoke of [orpines] often, promising many potential suitors we would plant them in our garden to divine which of my sisters they would marry. The three times she actually did instruct Father to purchase orpine for planting, however, one set grew straight as corn, one grew sick, and one simply died. Not one flower grew to touch another, and therefore promise marriage. Now I sat with one resting upon my arm. Morthwyl released his, and it leaned forward to grace the petals’ tips in the most chaste of kisses.
Then Morthwyl’s own hands unfolded as a flower, revealing two orpines of iron. They were but the length of our thumbs, woven wound one another, leaves embracing, heads touching intimately.
As much as I depend on music’s inspiration for my writing, Anne and Sundfør reminded me that music’s not just about vision or atmosphere. Sometimes it’s about the sign we pass on the journey that tells of the next turn, that reminds us where we are between A and B. It’s not like we pick that sign up and carry it around with us. It remains where it is, and we walk on. Sundfør’s song revealed a vital element to me; now I can listen to the song for enjoyment while continuing on with other music to enter my story’s world.
Think carefully on the lyrics of your beloved songs. What poetry hides within them? Let their language bring light to what remains in story’s shadow.