Some people have music on in the background when they are writing. I don’t tend to do that, but there is sometimes a particular piece of music or song that I associate with something I am writing. With Cold, Cold Heart, the Hank Williams classic actually gave me the title as well as playing a small part in the novel and I often listened to it before I began the day’s writing. It seemed to tune me into the novel.
In the one I’m writing now there is a nod to Elvis singing ‘The Girl of My Best Friend.’ As I listened, I was suddenly young again and it was a sunny summer’s day in August 1977. I was in my boyfriend’s car and we were driving out of Sutton Coldfield and it came on the car radio: Elvis had died. I can see that stretch of road. There are very few famous people of whom I can say that I have a vivid sense memory of where I was when I heard of their death – John Lennon, Princess Diana are others – and I suppose that what they have in common is that their deaths were shocking and premature. I wasn’t even a particular fan of Elvis – I was too young for that – but I felt the pathos of his early death. I feel it even more now that I am so much older.
I’ve enjoyed reacquainting myself with those extraordinary looks and that amazing voice. Browsing on Youtube I came the version of ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight?’ where Elvis starts messing around with the lyrics and laughs so much that he can’t finish the song, while Cissy Houston the backing singer just goes on and on warbling away. It made me laugh out loud. Here it is if you want to brighten a dark November day: https://youtu.be/WoqVFEE1UBY