Cue the Music

Bev Dalton

Bev Dalton | April 2, 2024

Cue the Music


In that heady, comforting, all-encompassing safety-net that is the deep love forged by a long life together, my soul-mate and I tried to find ‘our song’. Amongst all the haunting melodies and time-tested lyrics, surely we could find a single song that expressed the depths of our feelings for each other? He suggested some, I found others, we spent months playing tracks to each other, none quite fit the bill.

I thought I’d come close with Boyzone.

Our love has changed
It's not the same
And the only way to say it
Is say it, it's better

I can't conceal
This way I feel
For all the times we spend together
Forever just gets better

Seems what I'm trying to say is
You make things better
And no matter what the day is
With you here it's better...

He thought he’d nailed it with Cat’s Eyes

You're the best person I know
As far as other people go
There's no one else I'd rather sit next to
There's nowhere else I'd rather be when I'm with you

'Cause you're the best person I know, it's true
All my best times are with you

'Could hang around with you all day
No matter if there's nothing left to say...

But the tunes weren’t right, or something just didn’t click, and we carried on looking.

People have been writing love songs for thousands of years. Words are powerful. Music is emotive. The combination should work. The creative genius, Laurie Anderson, once said that a certain chord sequence would make people in her audience spontaneously stand up. Music has the power to literally move people. Why couldn’t we find one simple song that was an exact fit?

Perhaps it was a matter of involvement. And involvement requires time and effort. I can listen to a song for a few minutes and it will absolutely evoke memories, stir up some forgotten feelings. But it is not the same as the relationship I form with the characters of a great book.

I don’t think I’ve ever recovered from Thorin Oakenshield’s death, after reading The Hobbit, at 13. Having been raised on the standard ‘girl books’ at the time (Heidi, Ballet Shoes, Little Women, What Katy Did) it was a gut-wrenchingly visceral experience. I cried buckets. And it changed me. I never went back to the ‘girl books’, and started raiding my brother’s shelf of Ray Bradbury and John Wyndham instead.

Thorin’s death is part of my DNA. I felt it at a cellular level. Similarly, I intimately know Jay Gatsby (and the purity of his obsession with Daisy) better than I know many of my own cousins. And I would, without a shadow of a doubt, know what sort of biscuit to serve to Granny Weatherwax if she ever dropped in for tea (a digestive. Or none. She can’t abide fuss).

A book can make me weep for hours, and yearn for the characters for days beyond. Sometimes a book’s impact can be so devastating that I mourn when I’ve finished it. There’ve been times I’ve even switched the path of my life, based entirely on something I read: something so inspiring and personal I felt it was written only for me.

As a writer, I can’t imagine anything more extraordinary than creating a character that lives on after the last page has been turned. Of telling a story that engages people so utterly, they invest days of their life in the world created on the page. Or of making someone feel something they never imagined experiencing that day. What a rush that would be.

Yet I sometimes think that if I can’t even find a song that says what I need it to, how will I find 80,000 words that move someone, words out of my own head? But I persevere with both. I’m still listening to songs, hoping for a moment when the hairs lift on the back of my neck and all other sound recedes. I’m still typing away, letting all my experience push the words around the page, finding better ways to tell my stories.

Because I believe in words. I saw the light at Thorin’s deathbed. And it has led me down a twisting path from Asimov to John Irving, Graham Greene to Jane Austen, Bulgakov to Hardy, and Allende to Pratchett. So, in the words of the great Freddie Mercury…

Don't stop me now
I'm having such a good time
I'm having a ball

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