'Runaway Empire' Manifesto: entry #5 / by Andrew Yorke

In my first entry, I showed off a few images that were part of a mural I created while writing 'Runaway Empire'. One image included a selection of albums ranging from Simon & Garfunkel and the Rolling Stones to the Books and Devendra Bernhardt. Well, today I figured I would talk about the music that inspired this story.

Music has always been part of my life, in some form or another. When I was about five or six, my Grandmother would take me on trips through the country, playing a variety of different kinds of music on her tape player. Artists such as Scott Joplin, Peggy Lee and Patsy Cline were frequent visitors in that brown Ford Crown Victoria. She would sing at the top of her lungs, and I soon followed. I turned into the kid that played in the elementary school orchestra, then the band and then back to the orchestra. I actually played in a couple of bands in high school and college for the extra cash. Basically, I've been a music guy for some time.

Whenever I'm creating something, I always have music playing. With my first work 'Sharon Tate', I listened to a lot of Gustav Holst, Radiohead, The Beach Boys, The Mamas and the Papas, and Sigur Ros. My second publication 'Waiting for Love at Airports' was almost completely inspired by Brian Eno's classic ambient album "Ambient 1: Music for Airports". When I started working on 'Runaway Empire', I wanted to explore new tunes, new lyrics and new voices. Granted, some of the music might've been over thirty or forty years old, but it was the first time for me. I wanted to branch out, pushing my own creative juices as far as they could go.

I want to just point out a few songs that I listened to more than one. The first comes from movie composer James Horner. He supplied the score for the film "The New World", and boy did he do a good job. In one section of the book, I illustrate a dream Arthur experiences involving an abstract correlation between his journey and the children of Newtown. For hours, I looped Horner's "Of the Forest" and it provided an uniquely lucid experience for me. Great piece of music. 

Earlier on in the story, I go into detail about Arthur's struggle with alcohol and prescription pills. His world is stagnant, and he sees it going nowhere. Hence, he drowns himself in some of the easiest ways our society allows. Admittedly, I have never been one to pop pills. I'm actually one of those guys that hates taking two Advil when I have a fever. However, I've dabbled a bit in alcohol. Looking back, I did not enjoy the person I became. In addition, I've known plenty who have struggled with booze, pills or both, and tried my best to match it on paper. This particular song by Nosaj Thing helped bring that world to life for me.

Later in the story, Arthur finds himself around a small fire with a bearded man named Jeremy and an intriguing young woman named Michelle. Throughout the story, Arthur discusses his unavoidable attraction to Michelle, both for her looks and her strong, independent personality. As she dances around the fire, Arthur sees that Jeremy has an iPod playing next to him, which lends a certain diagetic musical accompaniment I always enjoy in real life. Here's a selection of songs Arthur listens to while the nightly fire burns. For those who haven't read the book, Arthur ends up dancing with Michelle under the stars. It's cute. It's romantic. It's something I've done, and would gladly do again.

As I approached the end of the story, I looked all over the place for a piece of music that would wrap up the story in my own mind. I think from a cinematic perspective, so I was imagining what kind of music would be most fitting for the conclusion of a film adaptation. I just about gave up on the idea until stumbling across a piece that was featured in the film "Stuck in Love". You may not have heard of this movie until now, but you should definitely check it out. This particular piece of music (which coincidentally appears with the end credits of the film) felt like the right accompaniment to the end of my own story. It's uplifting, and encourages the idea of pushing forward. Hell, it just puts a smile on your face.

I can never deny the power of music with my work. Without it, I don't think I could get lost in the worlds I create. They would just be words on paper. They would lack feelings, intimacy, tension - the whole works. 

If you would like to listen to all the music I used while writing 'Runaway Empire', you can check out my playlist either on Spotify or 8tracks. Behold the power of music!

Until next time.