Writing 101: Life Punctuated by Songs

Okay – I failed this challenge at the first hurdle. The idea was to free write for 15 minutes, unedited and unadulterated, and to write about three songs that have inspired and moved me. I began to write but then got myself so totally lost in a maze that the result was complete and utter drivel. So I deleted and restarted the timer, and here we are again. My only editing will be to correct the dyslexia in my fingers. I never learnt to type. I’m quick but inaccurate (ask my wife) so I don’t feel you need to see endless variations of spelling ‘the’ for this to be free-writing.

When I saw this challenge, the first song that sprang to mind was Days of Our Lives by Queen. I find this a poignant song, written by the man when he knew he was dying, and looking back to a time when life was carefree and everything was possible. I still remember seeing the video for the first time, then day Freddie died. It was such a huge event in Britain, one of the first and certainly one of the biggest stars to succumb to AIDS. Back in the early ‘90s AIDS was still very high profile and society was not as open as today about different sexual preferences. Freddie and Queen were ( and still are) superstars. To lose one’s hero was huge. I’m so fortunate that at that time I’d never lost someone really close to me so this was a first taste of the absoluteness of death. Though is death ever absolute if the person continues to live in their work for evermore? They become frozen in time, true, but we can always reach out and reconnect through their work.

Music has a way of tying itself to events. There are a couple of songs from my youth / young adulthood that remind me of relationships. Not particularly momentous relationships, but good times nonetheless. Suicide is Painless (theme from MASH) was top of the charts when I dated a girl who was out of my league. Her dad was something big in movies I think, and they lived in a small manor house in my home town. The old place was Gothic with stained glass windows. The living room was huge – like a ballroom, and her bedroom was probably as big as the ground floor of my parent’s house. Andi played guitar, and she quickly learned to play Suicide in Painless. She was a cute, sweet girl. Her dad took a job in Italy and they moved away. Their house become a nursing home and she became another piece of my history, making me who I am today. Similarly, It’s in His Kiss (the schoop schoop song) by Cher was big at a tumultuous time relationship-wise, and the song always takes me back there.

The other big relationship song just came to mind – but I’ve forgotten the name and I can’t Google in the middle of free writing. It was by Human League –yes – Don’t You Want Me? Classic 1980’s and a staple of the discos and clubs I went to with my first real love back in the day (along with Fashion by David Bowie). Don’t You Want Me was ‘our song’ though. It’s weird how songs mark a time so clearly, and transport you straight back to that time. Most of my ‘song memories’ come from those growing up years when I was discovering who I was. I distinctly remember playing Jean Michel Jarre’s Equinox and Oxygene in my bedroom, often alone but on rare occasions with a girl. Played in the dark this music envelops and transports me. Just thinking about the music I can hear the gulls crying and feel the sea breeze as I stand on top of the cliffs looking out.

I don’t know if that’s fifteen minutes or not, but I’m done with my musical memories. Just a thought as I conclude, though. I’m discovering self-censorship at work, even in free-writing. I can’t be 100% open in this writing, because I am not anonymous in this blog – family and friends read this. I think if I want to explore my writing fully, expand my horizons to what’s truly possible, maybe I need to be anonymous to my audience. Interesting.

4 thoughts on “Writing 101: Life Punctuated by Songs

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  1. Great tie in to the songs, who cares about 15 minutes or not (well, I know y’all do, but close enough).

    About the self-censorship: I have been “outed” at work and while I never got into huge details about my stress being caused by my job, I now know I can’t. Since writing helps more than anything with all my ills, I am starting a private blog just for that. Not sure if it will help, but we shall see…

    Anything else they read about me is their fault for looking since I don’t mind sharing with everyone else. 🙂


  2. Nice, very nice. I failed at this assignment as I could only think of one song while sitting down typing. Maybe I should have picked out three songs before I started. Love the songs you chose, especially Suicide is Painless.

    Just wondering, did you do the M.A.S.H. bash on their finale episode? I did and got spectacularly drunk.


    1. MASH wasn’t huge in the UK so I never followed it. Vietnam wasn’t our thing :p apparently (thanks Wikipedia) the episode got the biggest audience of the time – bigger than ‘who shot JR’


  3. Yes these songs took me back to my childhood (I was too young to watch M.A.S.H. so I can recall my dad talking to me about the Korean War and realising probably for the first time that wars didn’t stop when WWII ended) and you’re right I am immediately transported back to the 1970’s wallpaper in our living room and his revolving armchair!


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