I find music essential to getting through certain phases of writing, and inevitably work sound clips into the story. This is especially true for my story set on the coast of West Africa. Since it is currently -7 in Minnesota, and everything is coated with ice and snow, it’s especially hard to picture palm trees and beaches.
Music helps me remember, and if you were to ask any single person who lived there when I lived there to name a single song that brings the memories of Monrovia flooding back, they would say the same thing. This is the song:
Maybe its strange to think that Jamaican music reminds me of Africa, but Jimmy was on an Africa kick and Africa was on a Jimmy kick at that time. The song played constantly, and any memory of Monrovia has it as its soundtrack.
I also had a regular loop of music playing by a Liberian classmate of mine who’s gone on to be a successful (and really good) jazz/pop artist.
If the book has an unofficial theme song, though, it’s another great reggae song, and one that surprised me by the forcefulness with which it inserted itself into the process.
This book is not about women or crying, but I don’t think the song is either. That chorus is about the bravado of good friends giving each other solace in hard times, and that’s what the song is about. The poignant lyric that finds its way into the story is this one:
Good friends we have had,
Good friends we have lost along the way.
It’s maddening to realize that the sentiments of an entire novel are captured in a couplet, but what am I going to do? I’ve already written the novel.