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What music do you listen to for XXX?

By On Jul 12 2012, 2:14 am

Army of MenOK, admit it. You started reading this because you saw the triple X in the headline, didn't you?  Well… I have to admit that I was using XXX to indicate a "fill-in"  blank, but I hoped it would get your attention.

Don't run off just yet – we'll get to the sexy stuff. But before we do, I want to be your DJ for a few minutes — taking you through some great music to XXX to. And while you're reading this, I have a song for you to play in the background that might intrique your sensual music muse in anticipation of what will come a little later: Click the link or image to hear Sharam Jey and Cornelia's "Army of Men."

It's all about the anticipation, isn't it?

I was inspired to blog about music today because one of the questions I get a lot in interviews is, Do you listen to music while you're writing?

My answer is, I listen to music while doing everything! I can't imagine not listening to music. Back in college I used to study to everything from Shadowfax and Spyro Gyra to Madonna,  The dB's and New Order. I always have music playing when I read (my wife can't fathom this, she needs silence to read). For a couple years way back in the day, I was a college radio station DJ, and for years afterwards, I made people mix tapes and CDs. Last weekend at a barbecue, I was doing spur-of-conversation DJing via my iPod that ranged from playing Judas Priest to Shaun Cassidy's end-of-career cover of the classic "Once Bitten, Twice Shy" (produced by Todd Rundgren – you can't make this sh*t up - check it out!)

  I can make you a music list for just about anything:

  • The perfect accompaniment on the iPod while mowing the grass? The Donnas Spend the Night. Hard-rockin' summer fun music. You can't keep your head still with: "Too Bad About Your Girl."
     
  • Perfect music for driving with the convertible top down? (And I've tested this.) Well, you can't go wrong with Boston or Styx, but I also love my more modern gals in Morningwood and The Muffs.
     
  • Working in the yard without the headphones? For some reason (maybe it's the dirt?) weeding, pruning, painting, digging… that all makes me crave rootsy — I'll either plug in some Lyle Lovett, Roseanne Cash or the parade of vocalists fronting the series of CDs by Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra (here's one with Sam Moore and Sam Brown).
     
  • Brandi CarlileMore outdoor favorites? Anything by John Fogerty (particularly his Blue Moon Swamp) or Brandi Carlile, who has one of the most mature and achingly classic voices of the past two decades. If you can listen to the words of her song "The Story" without feeling some deep emotion, then I strongly advise an immediate cardiac checkup.
     
  • Sunday morning on the patio? Maybe a little modern gospel from Ollabelle.

You'll note as we go through this stream-of-consciousness playlist that most of my suggested artists feature female vocalists. I've always been drawn to the female voice; they can be sensual, operatic, raunchy and racy… sometimes all in the same song!

I've been obsessed with music since I was a kid. Give me a stack of CDs and I'd be happy as a clam listening to those and not speaking to another human being for days on end.

To me, life's not worth living without a soundtrack. I'm probably at my happiest state when I'm just kicked back, feet up, drink in hand, listening to one of my favorite bands (either from CD or live). I wrote a weekly pop music review column for a Chicago newspaper for 20 years (you can see the archives at www.popstops.net) and I reviewed everything from bubblegum pop (I own all of Britney's albums) to hard rock (Chicago's own Trouble is one of the best and most underrated metal acts of all time!)

I've played the keyboards since I was five, and written a lot of music (mostly pop rock type stuff). But I always preferred writing songs to performing them, so I didn't go far down the "play in a band" trail. I actually spent a long time saving and piece-by-piece building a digital 16-track home studio in my basement, but by the time it was complete, both my dayjob and my novel writing career had gotten more intense, and so I've barely written and recorded anything since it was finally completed (and now all the equipment is obsolete!)

But while I'm not writing much music these days, I still never have stopped listening. And last night, I answered an interview question asking if I listened to particular music while I write. I smiled at that.

The CureI do. Of course I do! But for each book, it's been a little different. For my Samhain novel NightWhere, during a couple of writing sessions for the intense scenes, I played some Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie. But mostly I gravitate towards the more ethereal stuff when writing. I wrote a lot of NightWhere in my basement, with the lights turned down to almost nil, and the big screen TV playing The Cure's trilogy music concert video where they performed the albums Pornography, Disintegration and Bloodflowers in order. Those make up The Cure's most "depressing" and "jammy" albums, and were the perfect soundtrack for writing about a dark, mysterious sex club.

For my last novel, The Pumpkin Man, I focused my soundtrack at home to La Floa Maldita, a German techno duo who made some really evocative, darkly danceable music in the '90s. It set the right "moodiness" for a book about ouija boards and a guy who carves off people's heads, leaving a carved jack-o-lantern in their place.

And for Siren — which is a novel that really has music at its core — I listened almost exclusively to the Cocteau Twins. Their lead singer, Elizabeth Fraser, sings in the most mysterious, ethereal tones of any vocalist ever… She was who I wanted in my subconscious as I wrote the scenes about Ligeia, a Siren who has awakened in the modern age, and decides to "take" rather than "eat" a man… If you have never heard Fraser sing the Buckley song "Song to the Siren," please stop reading now, visit my "Songs of the Siren" music page, close your eyes, and come back in three and a half minutes.

It will be three of the best minutes of your life.

Stephanie Meyer has always listed the "soundtrack" to her albums (which promo departments took note of; they even staged a sales rack of CDs in Best Buy that were billed as the Soundtrack to Twilight a couple years back). I have to agree with her that Muse is a fine choice to write to. Like Meyer (though not nearly as famously),  I've always listed the bands that helped my writing inspiration in each book's Acknowledgments.

But OK, so you're still waiting for the XXX part. You can go a couple ways with music to get turned on by. There's the traditional slow funk groove popularized by '70s porn films, or there's the in-your-face sexual funk of Prince in "Erotic City" or "Cream".

I personally like the dancy teases of Ke$ha and  Princess Superstar, whose songs "Licky" and "Oh, My Lollipop" somehow sound obscene, yet… word for word, really aren't. As with in-the-flesh sensuality, it's all about presentation…

If you want something a little more overt, listen to Bow Wow Wow's goofy orgasmic chorus to "Sexy Eiffel Tower." There's a musical version of what Meg Ryan did years later in When Harry Met Sally that will absolutely make you smile.

Want to continue with overt? There's LaRissa's  "I Do Both Jay and Jane"   or Pussycat Dolls' "Don't Cha."

Here are a couple more, mmm, seductive tracks that every couple should play just as they relax together on the couch:

The Herbalizer: "The Sensual Woman". It's got groove, its got a narrator, it's got massage…er… message!

Lovage: "Strangers on a Train".  Very sexy vocals by the lead singer of the always sensual Elysian Fields.

Want something evocative that's not particularly sexual to set the mood? My recommendations would follow the same list of artists I often write to. They are ethereal, dreamy, but not sleepy. Check out anything by Delerium, Conjure One, Balligomingo, Fauxliage, Cat Power, Grace Pool

OK. I could go on.  If you were here, I'd DJ all this music for you. And I'd love to see your reactions as you listen to some of my favorite songs. But I can't. So give some of these a listen, and let's play turnabout.

Post your comments here and DJ back at me. I want to hear what makes your ears sing. I've shown you mine, now you show me yours!

What music do you listen to for XXX?

 

 

 

Comments

21 Responses to “What music do you listen to for XXX?”

  1. Maria D. says:

    Great post! I’ll admit that I’ve only heard of some of the musical groups you mentioned. Like your wife – I pretty much have to read with silence though I can occasionally listen to classical music or piano, if it’s played softly in the background. As for music that I like for XXX – I would have to say I tend to like more American Classic type music by either the traditional artists or by someone newer to it – like Melody Gardot – her “Baby, I’m a Fool” is really great as is “Our Love is Easy”.

  2. I can watch concert dvds for hours on end…not unusual to have a bunch of people over on Friday or Sat. night just cranking them out…find that my live concert days are fewer and fewer… though I do have tickets to see Steve Vai in a small venue in Concord NH.. Don’t like the big concert halls anymore..small venues are the way to go. Saw Beth Hart do an acoustic show last year in a 200 seat venue…it was amazing!!!
    about an hour ago · Like

  3. Sarah H says:

    Prince,Manson,and Iron Maiden.

  4. Geri Everson (the wife) says:

    Just to clarify……I don’t need total silence to read. I can read to instrumental music without a problem and actually do enjoy that. And some of my choices to do things by are Green Day, Journey, Duran Duran (Astronaut is a great album), Boston, Asia, Genesis, Matchbox 20, Adele, Pink (when I’m angry) and I enjoy some soft Sarah McLachlan when I’m….ummmm…NOT angry. ;-) There are alot more but John knows most of my favorite music already.

  5. John Everson says:

    Hi Maria – I never had heard Melody before, but I just watched the “Baby I’m A Fool” video on YouTube and it’s phenomenal. Love the stylism, both in the video production and in the orchestral-backed “American Standard” style songsmithing. I’ll be looking up more by her, thanks for the suggestion.

    Peter – I can’t watch most concert videos and actually DO anything else, but The Cure Trilogy for some reason gives me just the right music and mood — I know the band and the music so well, I don’t have to stare at the screen while it’s playing, but every now and then I can look up… and it gives the room a nice purple/red/blue glow as I’m working.

    Sarah – Prince tends to be just a little too jaunty for me to work to, but I love him. I can get lost in Manson sometimes though.

    Geri – didn’t mean to misrepresent; I just don’t tend to put on instrumental music often, so Geri doesn’t often read in the same space that I’m writing. Big public props for introducing me to Adele!

  6. Kaylyn Davis says:

    I listen to my iphone on shuffle when I read. It will play anything from Prince to Madonna to Staind. I love lots of music and listen to it all the time. I think my favorite genre is country because it reminds me of home.

  7. John Everson says:

    Hey Kaylyn – I’m too much of a control freak to use Shuffle. Once in a great while, I do, but I’m a dyed-in-the-wool “Album” guy… so I tend to want to listen to a full album whenever I’ve got music playing. The fact that I have over 4,000 CDs sitting around the house makes “choosing” what album that will be tough sometimes. I could have kept writing that blog all night last night LOL.

    I like the “country as home” sentiment — do you have any other particular artists/songs that you listen to at particular times?

    • Kaylyn Davis says:

      I tend to listen to Craig Morgan “International Harvester” when I am missing my friends and family. Nebraska fits alot of country songs, New York not so many. Lol

  8. Sky says:

    I enjoy having various sound tracks for life, as well. My taste in music is so varied, that coming up with a succinct response is … difficult … to say the least.

    For naughty XXX, Enigma is a great way to start the evening, as is Twilight Zone by Golden Earring (great to strip by). But for the main event, I prefer something a little more industrial and, ahem, rough (NIN, Grendel).

    For driving, since I’m something of a speed demon, I love some NDH (Rammstein, Oomph, Eisbrecher) on aggressive roads and music that’s a bit more dance/techno for highway stretches (Scooter, Havana Brown, BT). FYI, Grendel’s Zombie Nation V.2K5 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4nFzYWw0Gk8) is absolutely amazing for just about any stretch of road.

    When writing, it really depends on WHAT I’m writing. If it’s a critical essay or a review, then anything goes. If it’s fiction, then I tend towards Muse, Linkin Park, Puscifer, Black Lab, Blizzard’s WoW soundtrack, Halestorm, and Ellie Goulding.

    When reading (slush and for pleasure) and editing manuscripts (for work or my own), I put my 2,000 tracks on shuffle and just let anything feed into my headphones. “Anything” includes the above and things like stuff from Toby Keith, Garth Brooks, Flo Rida, Timbaland, Pitbull, Jennifer Lopez, Bach, Mozart, Phantom of the Opera, Edward Maya, Britney Spears, Korn, Perfect Circle, Powerman 5000, Lacuna Coil, LaFee, Shakira, Tarkan, and on and on.

    • John Everson says:

      Hey Sky – I know the feeling (re: varied tastes)! I get Enigma, but stripping to Golden Earring? Hmmmm. That’s one I wouldn’t think of. Now Rob Zombie’s “Pussy Licker” http://youtu.be/G5qKjXLf1Jc or “Brickhouse”… that I’d recommend :-) Gotta like the NIN wall of noise for the main event!

      Rammstein is PERFECT driving music. But I have to ask… how does sweet little Ellie Goulding end up in a list with Linkin Park, Puscifer and Muse????

      • Eric (pretyh8) says:

        Puscifer is awesome… I went to their shop in Jerome, AZ… he lives there too. If you haven’t heard it.. The Humbling River is a haunting song and I like to play it for my students to do some creative writing to it!

  9. Sky says:

    Hehe. The same way that Black Lab and Blizzard’s WoW soundtrack did. My music habits are as ADHD as me. And I am clinically AD… SQUIRREL!

    • Sky says:

      Oh, and take a listen to that Golden Earring song and imagine a stripper in a fedora, a tie, a thong, and some high heels. Maybe she has a shiny gun too. Now put that song and that image of a stripper together in your head.

      And THAT, my friend, is how someone could strip to Golden Earring. Very old-school gangster. Not that I’ve ever actually done that, but it’s a great visual, no?

      I think my meds are wearing off. I can feel even worse tangents approaching.

      • John Everson says:

        OK. I’ve stopped playing The Hooters’ “All You Zombies” (which, given the band name and this thread should be a stripper song… but really, really isn’t.) I’ve sought out “Twilight Zone” http://youtu.be/a1sf2CzEq0w and yeah, I guess the throbbing bassline would work. And definitely a good song to add the faux gun to. Anything that will get rid of the “tie” in your scenario is good, really. I’m not a fan of ties on men OR women….

  10. Eric (pretyh8) says:

    For me, I have to write to something that is very familiar if it has lyrics… The Cure, Marilyn Manson, 10 Years, Tool are some examples… however, I’ve just been introduced to some instrumental (post-modern) music that is also awesome!!! God is an Astronaut is amazing! Check them out… and Explosions in the Sky!

    • John Everson says:

      Hey Eric – I agree… it needs to be familiar if you’re going to write to something with lyrics. Which is why The Cure is a big favorite for me, or bands like Conjure One, Delerium, This Mortal Coil work for me. They’re moody and I know them front-to-back-to-front. Tool would probably be too hard for me… call me a lightweight!

      Listening to God Is An Astronaut now (http://youtu.be/34C41eEpM48) – good tip! I like it!

      • Eric (pretyh8) says:

        Awesome… I found them through Pandora and they are sort of like 80s music without lyrics but also very emotional… reminds me a bit of The Cure without lyrics, if possible… they were one of my favorite bands and my first concert in 92- the Wish Tour. Oh, and I’ve enjoyed reading your novels… :) Last year, I was dissecting one of them to try to get the courage to write a novel during the summer (I’m a teacher) and I haven’t quite gotten this done yet.

        • John Everson says:

          I a lot of my “non-controlled” listening these days on http://www.strangewaysradio.com They specialize in Brit pop, dream pop, ethereal… most of the time, even if I don’t recognize the band, I love every song they play.

          Thanks for reading the novels — glad you enjoyed them!!! But don’t dissect them… you’ll find all the flaws that way ;-)

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