I was feeling a little nostalgic and the like, having just sent off the final draft of my novel I realised that writing that thing was something that was a constant among lots of other varying events in the background. It was a big part of my undergraduate course career and a bit beyond that. So I thought I’d try and collect a little something together.
I’ve struggled to place exactly when I started writing this novel. But it was certainly around second year sometime. I thought I’d collect my writing playlist for this time. At first I thought it would just be songs I actually listened to while I wrote, but then I thought that there’s some songs that go a bit beyond that, and there’s songs that I listened to over and over again throughout those years that were a part of my life, even if I wasn’t sat at the desk writing while I listened to them, they were all part of the same period in time. So I think that is what I will define a writing playlist as: The songs that surround the writing process, whether present or absent when the writing’s actually happening.
These are songs that pretty much defined my time sitting in my various little University rooms or on my mp3 player going to and from lectures and work and all the rest of it; they’re my personal favourites of 2006-2010, even though many of them don’t fall within that period of time in terms of release date. From the beginning of writing it to the editing that has consumed my past couple of months these are the songs that were always there along the way.
If you’ve got a writing playlist then let me know about it in the ‘Answer’ part at the bottom of this post, you can do this even if you’re not signed up to Tumblr.
The whole thing (or, just about, depending on what Spotify has and allows you to play) can be heard here: A Very Important Book About Mooranity - Novel Playlist
Or each track can be clicked to be heard somewhere else in internet-land.
Bob is ever-present for me. Unquestionably my favourite person in history. It was hard to choose a track that sticks out above the rest as he is truly the greatest songwriter of recent history, but Just Like A Woman is certainly one I find myself returning to again and again to play as I write.
Joe was an online discovery for me, and when I got hold of his EP it was on repeat for a good few weeks, this is the stand out song, and it defined a certain period of my second year.
Elbow are a really good band to write to. They’re songs are engaging, but they’re not overpowering. I love this track.
The Shins are most certainly one of the bands that define my University life (and a bit before then), this track reminded me of life back at home when I used to turn to The Shins during first year in Chamberlain Halls.
Arcade Fire’s ‘Funeral’ is a near perfect album as far as I’m concerned, and hearing the opening piano part of this first track on the album I’m always in for a surprise at how brilliant it is.
I was recommended listening to Modest Mouse’s ‘We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank’ and the opening track has failed to leave me.
When I didn’t want to be distracted by fast songs with too many lyrics (as they can sometimes be distracting) I would almost always turn to the Cinematic Orchestra. This opening track to their Ma Fleur album is just plain perfect.
I discovered The Ghost In You during my second year of Uni, and I played one of his songs on the radio when I used to host a show on SURGE. I love the multi-track way he records, it produces a great sound.
Another online discovery. Artisan’s tracks are great songs to appreciate, but they are also really chilled, I can leave them running as I write without fear of too much distraction.
Joe Purdy saw me through a lot, and this track in particular is one that sticks in my mind as being something that got me writing.
If I had to pick one artist that defines the whole of University to me it would have to be Bright Eyes. I discovered them very early on in first year from one of my mates in my halls and it was pretty rare for a week to go by without me returning to ‘I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning’ throughout my whole time at University. The music video is amazing, too.
Eels have such an amazing back catalogue of songs that manage to be happy and sad all at once, great songs to write to.
Sufjan Stevens is a brilliant songwriter, and this track in particular proves that without doubt.
Regina never fails to cheer me up.
The Neutral Milk Hotel album ‘In The Aeroplane Over The Sea’ was another early discover for me and I became entirely addicted to it. I would need to hear it straight away as soon as it finished. I urge you to listen to the album if you haven’t done so. There’s so much in there and so much to it that it would be hard to sum it up. Lyrically it is one of the best albums I’ve ever heard. You can only learn to appreciate it fully after hearing it a few times.
This song never fails to make me happy. Never.
Alice Russell’s version of this song has to be heard to be believed. It is just such a good cover.
The whole of the ‘Plans’ album was a staple for me when writing, and this song in particular stuck out for me.
The ‘Yoshimi’ album isn’t exactly easy listening, so I wouldn’t call it writing music, but it was always present throughout these past few years when I wasn’t writing.
The Mountain Goats were recommended to me and I have never looked back. This track is one of my favourite songs.
This track never made it to the final cut or Rice’s second album, which is such a shame because I think it’s one of his best songs, and it certainly defines part of my first year.
I was so excited for the release of this album. Scroobius Pip’s lyrics captured my attention early on, and I love this track.
Blair is a really talented artist that still remains under the radar. Her first EP was on repeat for a long time when I got hold of it, and it was a constant presence in second year.
This song made life bearable when I was back at home and working in an office job I hated. It was the song I listened to on the way to and from the office every day for a few weeks because it managed to offer a true escape for me for a little while. I was worried this might ruin the song for me when I listen to it, I thought I’d think back to my time at the office, but it’s done no such thing, it’s still a brilliant song in my eyes.
I was entirely swept along with the whole Juno phenomenon, and the soundtrack to the film really is great. I became obsessed with Kimya Dawson’s music, and I love the arrival of the backing singers on this track.
Laura Marling is one of my favourite artists. She is just so talented. The closing of this album has always been a favourite of mine, make sure to listen to the end as the final track has two songs in it. It is definitely a good album to write to.
I could not stop listening to this song for a few days, it was just this one over and over again, I think it is probably one of my favourite songs of all time.
Andy McKee’s songs are perfect to write to. The lack of lyrics helps, but also the style of music. This guy can certainly play a guitar!
There’s something vibrant and different about The Mummers that I can’t help but love. They have a modern Cabaret sound to them, but you’ve got to hear them really to see what I mean.
The Knife became a big part of my third year writing time, and this song in particular helped me out. They’re upbeat without being distracting.
These folky little blighters write cracking songs that I often find myself returning to.
The Cure was a band that were never far away all through my time at University and beyond, and they were definitely a big part of the writing process.
So there we go. It ended up being a lot longer than I anticipated, but these are the stand-out tracks that helped me through the past couple of years of juggling lectures, seminars, essays, revision, part-time work, laziness, leaving the house and writing the novel that this blog’s all about. I think I’ll probably return to these with my next one, but hopefully I’ll be able to find a whole new set of songs by then as well.
What’s your writing playlist?