Music is definitely a massive inspiration to my writing. I find it too distracting to actually listen to while working, but those songs and albums that have made the biggest impression on me are ingrained in my head and I can play them internally any time.
I'm going to talk about two bands, both cunningly beginning with M, that have created works of art that have had a great effect on me. If I wrote a book that made an artistic statement approaching either of these discs, I'd be pretty damn pleased.
First up, it's the third album by Welsh rockers Manic Street Preachers, The Holy Bible (1994). Yep, this record is pretty controversial from the title on, but don't let that put you off. It's hard to sum up just how I feel about it. Imagine someone wrote an album chronicling all the very worst aspects of human nature, but in such an eloquent way that you can't help being impressed. Anorexia, prostitution, the Holocaust, self-harm, serial killers and American imperialism are just some of the topics covered. Sensationalist? Some might say so. But guitarist and lyricist Richey Edwards, who mysteriously vanished six months after the album's release, was in the depths of despair with humanity at the time and this is what came out of that. It's a pretty powerful statement and makes you realise just how flawed we are. A book that did that might seem depressing but hopefully would ultimately be compelling.
The other album, my favourite of all time, is the incredible Six by Mansun (1998). Although influenced by the Manics record, it is somewhat different musically, sprawling and constantly changing pace as opposed to being tight and coiled. However it too is a great work of art, being loosely narrated by an outsider to society taking satirical sideswipes at themself as well as everything else. It's the music though that I love the best in this record. Although there are 13 tracks, there are actually around 70 individual tunes spliced together, which might sound messy but there is a great sense of drama in the musicianship. It's like being inside the head of a schizophrenic, vacillating through every emotion. Each time you listen to the album, you pick up something you never heard before. That's no mean feat.
I don't think I've done justice to either of these masterpieces, but hopefully I've piqued someone's interest. A word of caution, though, even if you know something of either band, you'll feel like you want to clean your brain out after listening to either of these discs for the first time, so I would recommend some of their more accessible work to any newcomers before taking the plunge.
If you made it through this not particularly short post, I'll reward you with a video which is only two minutes! This is "Being A Girl" by Mansun, a frenetic punky tune which still manages a quiet spooky breakdown - just a small window into their genius. By the way, the band do not feature in the video! Bonus points, though, if you can spot a Brit actor who has since starred in several movies.
What are your musical influences? Any other bands or artists beginning with M to recommend?