Sunday, January 5, 2014

Music to Grind the Gears By

Yeah, yeah, that was a really stupid pun.  I probably should have warned you all, I tend to make jokes. Really stupid, unfunny jokes.

While I am aware of the origin of the phrase (and it just so happens to be one of my favorite Family Guy episodes), the purpose of this entry isn't to describe songs that annoy the ever-living crap out of me.  Rather, these are the songs that inspire me the most while writing Gears of Golgotha.  You could say that this list is more of what I wish the soundtrack would look like.  Maybe by posting these, I can leave you another little nugget about the novel.

Writing may be my first love, but I've always had a secret love affair with music.  Hell, before I was an English major at college, I was a music major.  I remember when I switched majors I described my situation and feelings as such:  "For me, music is in the friend zone.  I love it, but I'm not in love with it.  I want to be in love with what I do."  This isn't to say that I hate music.  On the contrary, it has become one of the greatest inspirations for my writing.  (I am also a member of Sigma Alpha Iota International Music Fraternity. So yeah, I kinda like music a little bit.)  I usually come up with some of the best parts of my story by just putting my headphones in and letting the music take me.

So, without further adieu, here are the songs that inspire me the most while writing Gears of Golgotha.

(By the way, quick warning: this post is going to have A LOT of links.  A LOT.)

1. Feed the Machine (Red) - This song is about how people have given themselves to the world and have given up their individuality.  The Chemists act like Chemists and the Mages act like... well, Mages.  Why? Because that's how New Pangaea works.  Every person has its place.  The world works like the Gears; every piece must fit perfectly into place that way the cogs can mesh.  The "machine" that they have given themselves to is the Gears.  Everything in New Pangaea revolves around the Gears.  Erin has given up her Chemist identity, her identity determined by New Pangaea and the Gears.

2. Radioactive (Imagine Dragons) - Yeah, I'm pretty sure this is the anthem for every dystopian story.  The techno sound, accompanied by the pounding of the drum, make the song seem surreal and grand at times. That's how the people feel about the Gears.  But more than that, to me, the song is about welcoming change. The citizens of New Pangaea welcomed change after World War Three, and Erin welcomes the change that she undergoes and that she can bring.

3. Unleashed (Epica) - This song was actually recommended to me on the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) "Post a Synopsis, Get a Soundtrack"  forum.  While the song is actually more about death than anything, and the thoughts that go through someone's mind at the end of an uneventful life, I feel that it can still fit into the overall tone of the novel.  Some religions talk about a person "dying to one's self."  In other words, they shed who they once were to become someone else.  This is something that every character (well, almost every character) goes through over the course of a story, especially in Gears of Golgotha.  They die to who they once were and become someone better.  (On a more literal note, *SPOILER ALERT* someone dies in Gears!)

4. Wrong Side of Heaven (Five Finger Death Punch) - I previously did an entry on this song and about how it connects to Gears, so I'll be brief.  Erin feels like that no matter where she goes, she can't fit in.  She doesn't fit in with the Chemists, but the Mages don't completely accept her, either.  She's too bad to be good, but too good to be bad.  She's torn between the values she was raised with and what her heart is telling her.

5. Rise (Colton Dixon) - Recommended to me by my younger sister Mary, this song is about overcoming obstacles to become the best person you can be.  Erin must overcome her fear of conflict to stand up for what she believes in and for the good of New Pangaea.  You may have your own beliefs, but if you don't stand up and say something, things aren't going to change.  It's something not only Erin, but Makswell, Damon, and every character goes through.  It's pretty much the same principle as Unleashed.

6. Narcissistic Cannibal (Korn feat. Skrillex & Kill the Noise) - This song mainly focuses on the darker aspects of Gears.  That is, the villain and his attitudes and motives.  I won't disclose much other than this, just because if there's one thing I want to keep a surprise about Gears, it's the villain.  (Villains are one of my favorite parts of any story.)

7. Impossible (Manafest) - When my cousin Amy McCorkle (the awesome author of Letters to Daniel) and I went to Panera yesterday, she introduced me to the song, and I fell in love with it completely.  To me, this song is about someone being in suffering and calling out for help.  In the case of Gears, it's for the characters not being true to themselves. This song definitely characterizes the feelings that Erin and Makswell experience throughout Gears.

*Honorable Mentions* (Mostly, these are other songs by some of the artists above.  I really don't like using the same artist more than once in a list.)

1. Breathe Into Me (Red) - This song makes me think of the Mages and their magic, as they call upon their magic to "breathe their life" into their power.  It also makes me think of the desperation in Erin to do what she has to do.

2. Battle Born (Five Finger Death Punch) - This song mostly has to do with the identity of the wanderer shared by several of the characters.  The Gears have impacted their lives in such a way that they have lost sight of who they truly are.  And in the end, they are reborn from the ashes of their destroyed identities.  (I still can't make sense of that flight announcement in the middle of the song, though.)

"But why are you using Christian artists alongside artists like Korn and Five Finger Death Punch?" you may ask.  To be quite honest, religious and non-religious people alike behave the way they do because that's the way they were conditioned to behave.  What you say, what you do, what you wear, what you listen to, they're all determined by what values you hold.  And the difference in values often leads to discrimination (think Crusades or Spanish Inquisition).  That's why I'm including artists like Red, Manafest, and Colton Dixon, which are obviously Christian artists.  The point of Gears of Golgotha is that if we truly want to make the world better, we need to drop the labels.  The mixture of religious and secular music is a little homage to this message.  (Not to mention that the groups can attract fans they never were able to reach before.)

Let me know what you think of the list.  I know I have a very eclectic music taste, but I think that just makes life more fun.  If you have any other song ideas, don't hesitate to let me know!  Happy listening!

Love and Coffee cups,

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