The romantic in me comes out whenever I hear Norah Jones. Granted, I’m not much of a romance writer. But every now and again, even I like to write a little something sweet and beautiful such as two people coming together in love. In fact, I have a romance novella that I’m working on right now, which is inspired by a couple of different pieces of music I’ve listened to recently (Dear Esther soundtrack and Dvorak, for starters). But, back to Norah Jones.
I’ve been a fan of hers ever since her first album ‘Come Away With Me’ came out in 2002. I’ve been collecting her albums ever since. I just in fact downloaded her newest album “Little Broken Hearts” a couple days ago. I’m always surprised by how she can change her music style but still make the hairs on my arms stand with her emotion and wonderful voice. Today, I’ll be sharing 7 songs of hers that have inspired me in my writing with you.
Travelin’ On: A woman is climbing into a beat up old car, her luggage stuffed into the trunk and filling up the backseat of the car. She’s got her dog in the passenger seat. She drives out of the little dirt driveway from the house she’s lived for the last five years and out onto the open road. Pretty soon, she’s driving by open fields of green, the blue sky perfect overhead. Several clouds seem to chase her as they are pushed by the wind. She never looks into the rear-view mirror as she drives further and further away from the house. She knows she can’t stay there. She has to keep moving, despite the fact that a part of her feels like it’s being left behind. Things are too bad for her to remain though. She has to get away.
Come Away With Me: She awakens in her bed in the old country farm house at midnight. Her eyes are bright and a smile widens on her face. The moon is full and dyes the world in milky light. The stars glitter in the sky around it. She goes to her window and looks out onto the lawn below. Her boyfriend is waiting for her with a backpack slung over his shoulder. He grins when he sees her. She shimmies open the window and tosses out a bedsheet rope which she descends with her own bag in tow. They take off across the field together in the moonlight. Cows moan as they race by. They finally ascend a hill and stop at a tree on top of it to look out over the lake. They lay out a blanket and sit leaning up against the tree, in each others arms. They can pretend they are somewhere far away when they are here in this place. They close their eyes and dream.
Not Too Late: It’s the last dance on the ballroom floor. Two characters are left dancing. They’ve been avoiding one another the entire night because it’s the last time they will ever see each other again. And now that they’ve come together, they realize just how much they will miss one another. As they slowly turn beneath the dim lights, she holds him close, trying to hold back the tears. She wishes she didn’t have to go. But she can’t stay. He can’t give her a reason. They’ve been best friends for so long and though they love one another, they can’t share their feelings with one another. When the song ends, they stay there for a few extra moments before she turns and leaves. He watches as she gets into her taxi and disappears down the street. Then, he joins his new bride in their limo which will take them to the airport and off to their honeymoon.
My Dear Country: 1950’s. Midnight in November. It’s the night before Election Day. Four characters are patrolling the sidewalks that night. One is the independent candidate for a state position. He’s decided that he’s already lost the campaign. Dejected and heartbroken, he waits for the moment that they announce his opponent has won. The second man is just hanging up his phone in the bar. His eyes are wide with exasperation. Someone has discovered and exposed his secret. The election was his for the taking. But now, he’d never win. Revenge is on his mind. He has to find out who knows. He has to make them silent. The third man is shorter with a gruff exterior but a very prominent smile that seems to take over his face like a Cheshire cat’s when he’s happy. He’s smiling now as he hangs up the phone in the booth and traipses up the sidewalk. He’s discovered that the winning candidate bought his votes. He’s already informed the police and awaits the wondrous sounds of the sirens to wail and for the police to arrest the winning candidate. The last figure is a woman who has been searching high and low for her fiance, the independent candidate. She’s just received a call from the man she hired to look into the other candidate’s campaign. He’s found something that turns everything on its head. If only she could find the man she loves to tell him.
The Sun Doesn’t Like You: On a ranch out in Colorado, this tells the story of a married couple on an ordinary morning. They wake up early to the sunlight creeping in through the windows toward their bed. She gets up and tends to breakfast, while he heads out to the pasture to attend to the animals. She looks on from time to time from the porch with a smile, admiring his work and realizing just how wonderful life is for them. When he comes in for breakfast later, she reaches across the table and rubs his hand. Her hand caresses up his arm to the long scar near a major artery. She remembers what it had been like to almost lose him a year ago that day. He cups a hand over hers and in that moment, they seem to see straight into one another. He’s thankful she was there to save his life.
Sinkin’ Soon: Two characters walk along a highway in the desert side by side. About a quarter mile behind them is a leaping and bounding ball of flames. This was their car. The man is hefting his luggage over his shoulder, his sunglasses slid down to the end of his nose. He checks his watch and futilely drops the bag on the ground. Their flight has already taken off. The woman drags her bag along the cracked pavement, grunting when one of the wheels gets stuck in a divit. They stop and watch the combustive car behind them for a moment. The man reaches into his pocket for his phone to call for help but it’s not there. Then he realizes he left it in the glove compartment. Cue the swearing.
It’s Gonna Be: This is a song that inspired parts of “Night Time, Dotted Line”. The two main characters are on a cross-country road trip trying to get to an environmental conference. They have to deal not only with strange situations in the towns they stay in and on the highway, but with each other’s differing personalities. He’s a self-obsessed lawyer dealing with a recent divorce, and she’s a fiercely independent environmental activist. This song doesn’t necessarily inspire one scene as much as it inspires the idea of the novel. They have to make it to this place and to do that they have to put up with one another.
Next week on Inspiration Through Music, we’ll be exploring the music of the legendary Johnny Cash, who’s vocal stylings have inspired several works of mine over the years. Stay tuned!