Friday, January 6, 2012

Lyrics That Make Your Heart Bleed

by Jordan Dane

I don’t think I could write a YA book without thinking of music. Lyrics really ground me in a character’s world. They can be powerful. One of my favorite research things to do is discovering music for the book I’m working on. Maybe you can help inspire me for future books by sharing your favorite song and share why you LOVE it.

Sometimes an inspiration is only one song that triggers something in me about a character or feeling. Listening to certain songs can stir my creative juices and entice my characters to come out and play with me. When I know I’ll be writing a scene for a specific character, I often will listen to the song that reminds me of them before I start. That gets me in the mood. I love how lyrics can connect us all. Books are like that too.

I’d actually love to hear from readers when they find good songs with lyrics that make your heart bleed. Yeah, I tip the scales toward Emo when I write.

Two songs played a part in the writing of ON A DARK WING. Abbey Chandler has a crush on a boy she thinks is perfect, Nate Holden. He’s a great guy, but reminds her of all the things she’s not. Abbey doesn’t feel worthy, but that doesn’t stop her from fantasizing about the guy. The lyrics to the song “Not Meant to Be” by Theory of a Deadman became a melancholy reminder to her that she was never going to “get” the guy, but those same lyrics told a different story for another character. Her best friend, Tanner Lange, knew this song reminded Abbey of Nate, but Tanner had his own crush on his BFF, Abbey. Those lyrics worked him over, hard. When he heard that song, which Abbey played often, he knew she was thinking of someone else—someone with two good legs and not in a wheelchair. Here are a few lyrics that inspired me from “Not Meant to Be” by Theory of a Deadman and an excerpt from ON A DARK WING from Tanner.

“Not meant to be” by Theory of a Deadman (Inspiration Lyrics)

“Baby, I’m starting to see
Maybe we’re not meant to be.”
It’s never enough to say I love you.
No, it’s never enough to say I try.
It’s hard to believe,
That there’s no way out for you and me
And it seems to be the story of our lives.”

Excerpt from ON A DARK WING – Tanner

The sun had already gone down by the time Tanner got home from Anchorage. For the last hour, he’d been sitting in his wheelchair, looking out his bedroom window with only one lamp burning. As he listened to the song “Not Meant to Be”, one of Abbey’s favorite songs, he thought about her. The lyrics put him into an epic tailspin, but they seemed to make her happy, so he played the song because it reminded him of her.

He imagined her skulking through the woods on her way to see him. Sometimes she’d come to his front door, but the times he liked best was when she climbed the tree and came through his bedroom window. He knew that wasn’t going to happen tonight, but that didn’t stop him from wanting to see her.

Guess he missed his best friend—and not just a little bit.

Another song that I thought was very haunting for this story is “Gravity” by Sara Bareilles. The lyrics can make anyone long for love, the kind that doesn’t hurt. But in ON A DARK WING, Abbey comes face to face with the grief and guilt she feels for the part she played in her mother’s death and also must come to grips with the reality of her fantasy boy and what love truly is. Here is a beautiful YouTube video of the song with the lyrics and an excerpt from the book—from Abbey.

“Gravity” by Sara Bareilles (Video with Lyrics)

Excerpt from ON A DARK WING – Abbey

By the time my dad got done with his ax, freaking me out like he was Jason on Friday the 13th (so not funny), he came in breathing a little heavy and got a fire going in our stove. I smelled the wood burning and heard the crackling as I shut the door to my room. The place was always real quiet, which drove me crazier than usual. I had to have music in my ears and snag alone time behind closed doors, scarfing on a Kit Kat bar. Lying on my bed, I got completely wrapped in my tunes.

When one of my favorite Sara Bareilles’ songs came on my iPod—“Gravity”—it reminded me of Nate. Listening to her sing about wanting to drown in love and being fragile always made me cry. I imagined Nate looking at me, really seeing me. In my dreams, I looked thin and smelled really good too, like chocolate. Nate’s blue eyes were the color of new denim and they always made it hard for me to breathe. Even in my daydreams, it was the same. I wanted to know what it would be like to touch a boy, for real.

The lyrics made me ache to kiss him…and hold him…and know what it felt like to really be in love. When my throat tightened, tears rolled down my cheeks and my room turned into a major blur, making it easy to cuddle up in Nateworld. I would never even come close to having someone like him and he sure didn’t need me. He had a real life ahead of him. I could totally see him saving lives and doing real stuff, but that didn’t stop me from fantasizing. I closed my eyes and blocked out the cabin to picture him with me now.

That would’ve worked too—except for Dad.

He barged into my bedroom and ruined everything. I jumped off my pillows and wiped a hand over my face as I pulled the music from my ears.

“Come on, Dad. Knock.” I couldn’t look at him or else he’d know I’d been crying.

So for future reference in books to come, please share a song that you LOVE and share the reason it makes your heart bleed. Who knows? You could inspire me to use your name in my upcoming THE HUNTED series with Harlequin Teen. O’Dell Hutchinson of BookTwirps has already earned a character spot in book #1 – INDIGO AWAKENING – by suggesting DOWN by Jason Walker, an amazing song with powerful lyrics. Share a song that you love and you may inspire me to name a character after you.


Mary Lindsey / Marissa Clarke said...

"Death Already Came and Got Me," by Rosie Thomas.

Jordan Dane said...

Wow, beautiful song, Mary. Sad. Her voice is haunting, especially with those lyrics.

Hope you're up early & writing, Miss SHATTERED SOULS. See you soon & thanks for gracing our blog.

Jennifer Archer said...

Fab post, Jordan. I also find songs that set the tone for my stories. Then I make a soundtrack and listen to it while I write.

Jordan Dane said...

Great idea, a sound track. With my cast of characters in THE HUNTED, that would be a great idea, Jenny. Thanks.

Tee said...

Jordan I love both of those songs. My favorite when I was reading a series is Skinny Lover by Birdy.

Here is the youtube link

And here are some of the lyrics: I tell my love to wreck it all
Cut out all the ropes and let me fall
My, my, my, my, my, my, my, my
Right at the moment this order's tall

And I told you to be patient
And I told you to be fine
And I told you to be balanced
And I told you to be kind

And in the morning, I'll be with you
But it will be a different kind
'Cause I'll be holding all the tickets
And you'll be owning all the fines

Jordan Dane said...

Wow, Tee. That Birdy song is AWESOME. The imagery in the lyrics really make that song. I'm gonna have to get hooked on Vamp Diaries. I can also see these lyrics applying to one of my characters in THE HUNTED. I've been looking for a song for Kendra and Rafe. You have a very strong contender.

DOWN by Jason Walker was featured on the Vamp Diaries too--and suggesting that song got O'Dell from Booktwirps in my book as a nasty villain. The minute I heard the song, I thought of one of my main characters, Lucas.

Here's the link to that song -

SallySmurf said...

I would have to go with 'I will follow you into the dark' by Death Cab for Cutie. Sweet and haunting and lovely :)

Jordan Dane said...

Hey there, Sally. That is the funniest little song. A lively tune with lyrics about dying and not going alone. The part about catholic school cracked me up.

What a fun song!

Unknown said...

hi Jordan!! was fun chatting live with you last nite! not sure how u will feel about this song, but it just brings out raw emotion for me and i really cant explain why! maybe its the conviction in the voice? anyway....Indigo Girls "Blood and Fire" absolutely kills me!

its not a very well known song so here it is:

Jordan Dane said...

Hey Heather - Great to see you on ADR3NALIN3. Wow, such a haunting song, so beautifully sung. Especially when she sings soft and low. Hard to believe that more people haven't made that a favorite. Here are some of the lyrics that caught my attention:

I am looking for someone who can take as much as I give,
Give back as much as I need,
And still have the will to live.
I am intense, I am in need,
I am in pain, I am in love.
I feel forsaken, like the things I gave away.

Thanks for sharing and for joining the LIVE CHAT last night. You were so fun. The whole tour experience was awesome.

Have a great weekend. :)

Anita Grace Howard said...

Jenny and JD: you should put up a playlist of the songs you write to on your websites! I'm working on one right now for mine. They have some over at that ca be color coordinated. Here's linkage (you can log in w/twitter or FB):

If you only download five songs, you can have it for free.

Jordan Dane said...

Very cool, Anita. Thx for sharing. I'll ck it out. You are so high techie.


Anita Grace Howard said...

My pleasure, JD. :)

Allyson Rae said...

This is gonna sound so cliched & "typical teenager-esque" ...but I'm 21, so just roll with it. When I listen to songs, or pick my new favorite song or what have you, I always listen for lyrics first. I don't cry at many things, but when I heard "Last Kiss" off of Taylor Swift's most recent album, I lost it. Plain and simple. That song hit me so hard. I was still reeling over a breakup that had occured several months before, and every image in that song was so reminiscent of my experiences in that relationship. It forced me to relive those eexperiences, and the pain of the breakup, and ultimately forced me to deal with my emotions about it and move on from it. It might sound stupid, but for's always a Taylor Swift song that does it.
Although I am very partial to that Sara Bareilles song. One of my favorites from her, actually.
I'm a huge music junkie, and it was really great to see that other writers utilize music in their writing in the same way that I do when I write. I thought I was an oddity, connecting the mood in my writing with songs. Glad I'm not the only one. :)

Jordan Dane said...

Wow, Allyson. Incredible song. And thanks for sharing the reason those amazing lyrics left a mark on you. Thats not teenagery, girl. Losing people we love, that intense hurt, isn't just teen angst or someone getting gushy over emo lyrics. It's real, unfortunately. Songs like this resonate for a reason, like how some books can really seep into your heart. But you gotta keep trying & keep putting yourself out there. Any pain you have felt will make you stronger for the person who deserves you.

I especially loved the imagery of her wearing his clothes after he's gone & the line "I don't know how to be something you miss." Great song. Great lyrics. Beautifully sung. Thanks for suggesting it. I'll add it to my book playlist & see how it might fit into my story. Thanks, Allyson Rae.