The power of music to evoke deep connections makes song references a good tool for fiction-writers to capture times, places, characters and moods. Not surprisingly (especially to writers, I suspect), scientific research shows “listening to music engages broad neural networks in the brain, including brain regions responsible for motor actions, emotions, and creativity.” The same research shows the remarkable power of music to evoke memories, even in people who’ve suffered severe memory loss.
Without any particular design, Psycho-Tropics ended up filled with song references. Thanks to a friend for suggesting the songs might make for an interesting playlist. It turned out to be an eclectic one, from the Carpenters and Three Dog Night to Bob Marley and Muddy Waters. Here’s the Psycho-Tropics Soundtrack, the pop and rock songs mentioned in the book in order of appearance.
One of the songs has major plot significance. Can you guess which one?
• Rainy Days and Mondays – Carpenters
• Mama Told Me Not to Come – Three Dog Night
• Black Water – Doobie Brothers
• Cheeseburger in Paradise – Jimmy Buffett
• You’re Sixteen – Ringo Starr
• Reeling in the Years – Steely Dan
• Southbound – Allman Brothers
• Highway Star – Deep Purple
• Dancing Machine – Jackson Five
• Heart of Gold – Neil Young
• Don’t You Forget About Me – Simple Minds
• Brown-Eyed Girl – Van Morrison
• Top of the World – Carpenters
• Superstition – Stevie Wonder
• Buffalo Soldier – Bob Marley
• Don’t Fear the Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult
• Got My Mojo Working – Muddy Waters
• Knock Three Times – Tony Orlando and Dawn
• You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling – The Righteous Brothers
• Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) – Sly & The Family Stone
As random as the list appears to be, each song fits in the book to capture a place in time, mood or character (one of the loony antagonist’s several obsessions is 70s pop music).
Caution: Be careful using songs in your writing. Generally, regarding copyrights, a reference to a song is fine, but you can’t quote substantial portions of a song. Because songs are short compared to articles or books, quoting more than a line or two without permission can lead to copyright issues. Read my post about legal issues facing indie writers and publishers.
* I set up the playlist on 8Tracks, an internet radio station comprising user-made playlists. Used to be free, but copyright issues now limit free listening to one hour a week. Still a good value though. Tons of “writing music” and “study music” playlists, all handcrafted by lovers of music.