I think it’s safe to say that music has had a hand in shaping my identity over time. In my early teens, Duran Duran gave me permission to dress as close to a New Romantic/New Wave as I dared, growing up in a small town. The Cure and Siouxsie and the Banshees urged me to take my identity experiment a little further.
In my early twenties, I was listening to bands from the 1960s: everything from The Who and T-Rex to Buffalo Springfield and Joni Mitchell. We were all living a full-blown 60s revival back then; Edie Brickell covered Dylan’s A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall. Val Kilmer method acted his way into the head of Jim Morrison in The Doors and everyone and their uncle made a movie about Vietnam. And so, I grew my hair long, donned paisley and tried my hand at being a hippie.
These days, I can’t say my dress is inspired by anything other than a flailing and desperate grasp for youth, but I still always have music playing wherever I am: at work, while I’m cooking, in my car on my way to the office, on road trips … even a short jaunt to the grocery store. And when I’m not listening to anything, there is usually a song playing in my head; it’s a like a radio in there most days; you never know what you’re going to hear next!
Occasionally, when I write, I will shuffle my iTunes playlist so that everything is in rotation: Blondie rubs shoulders with The War on Drugs, Little Miss Higgins or the Dream Warriors and they can be followed by any number of artists: Tom Waits, Rain Over St. Ambrose, the Clash, Johnny Cash, July Talk, Stone Roses, Stompin’ Tom or Tim Hus – the list is endless.
More often than not, since 2012 or so, you will find me listening to the ‘musical trinity’ that has evolved from the early days of writing my novel. Sam Roberts Band, Matt Mays and Whitehorse make up my happy little trio of muses (I’ll leave it to you to decide who is God, Jesus or the Holy Ghost).
My Sam, Matt and Whitehorse Playlist has become synonymous with the act of writing, with road trips and (in the case of Sam Roberts a little more than the rest) the West Coast for me.
The first time I rented a car and drove to Tofino by myself, my plan was to have my playlist keep me company as I navigated the tricky turns along the Island Highway and back to Victoria when my trip was done. I had a lot of work to do, contemplating the Vancouver Island portion of Ben and Morgan’s road trip as I drove and listened to my musical trio.
As I settled into the rental, I quickly learned that there was no way to connect the car stereo to my phone. I stopped at the Future Shop in Duncan and blew a hundred bucks on one of those portable speakers. Come hell or high water, I was going to have access to my music and somewhat decent sound at that. It worked out well in the end; I now have a portable speaker to put in my suitcase; something to listen to when I sit down to write in hotel rooms.
In Sam Roberts’ songs, a sense of ‘The Journey’ is evoked for me. Matt Mays plants me in the riches of the east coast and Whitehorse reminds me to be raw and gritty where I can. All of them spark an unquenchable wanderlust and, most important, remind me that there is magic out there at every turn.