Musical Inspiration for the Wild Weird West
Writing takes me down many paths through the tales I spin. Each dusty trail taken was influenced in a different manner. Sometimes, it is something as simple as a grouping of trees around a large sandstone boulder. Other times, an old film sparks a flame of creativity. Many things activate the part of my brain that manufactures the stories I write. However, music is one of the most important tools used for inspiration.
A particular song can put me in the saddle in the middle of a cattle drive. Often, a tune can make me smell the leather of the saddle beneath me and feel the sun on my forehead, or a cold rain slapping my face. Music can remove my mind from my body and teleport it through space and time to an era when vigilante justice was meted out quickly with a gun or a noose.
In my collection of Wild West collides with horror tales, Eerie Trails of the Wild Weird West, music was instrumental in nearly all my yarns. Though most of the stories in this collection were not directly inspired by a particular song, listening to a special song put me in a proper frame of mind. On some occasions, I listened to the same song repeatedly as I weaved the fabric of a tale.
Take the story, Willows of the Mourning Dove; I listened to Running Bear by Sonny James several times, as I penned the tale. Though the character of Mourning Dove was very loosely based on the female love interest in the song, little else about the story resembles the tune. Still, the music and lyrics inspired me as I wrote. Had I listened to another song while I put words to page, the story would have most likely taken a different path.
While inking The Jonah Herd, there were two songs on my playlist, Stampede by Chris Ledoux and Rawhide by Frankie Laine. Other than both using a cattle drive as the subject matter, nothing about the story suggests a tie to either tune. Nonetheless, both kept my mind firmly planted on a trail drive. Both brought me to a place where I could feel the mud from the hooves of horses and cattle hitting my face and see the rain as it dripped from the brim of my hat.
As I sat writing The Guns of Clay Allison, the tune Big Iron by Marty Robbins played almost exclusively. There is absolutely no link between the song and tale, but I knew I needed to listen to it if I was to pen the story. It gave me the sense of using a primitive six-shooter and filled my nose with the scent of spent gunpowder.
In the story Collateral Winds, the song Seven Spanish Angels by Willie Nelson and Ray Charles inspired and influenced the story. A tale of a path taken leading to regret and remorse, the impact the tune had on the storyline is evident. Sometimes, decisions made affect not only the people in our sight, but also others we fail to notice. Both the story and song depict the ramifications of a life lived by the gun.
The Devil’s Herd was inspired by two songs, Ghost Riders in the Sky by Johnny Cash and to a lesser extent, El Paso by Marty Robbins. Elements of this story are derived from the lyrics of both tunes. Though I listened to the latter more often, the other had more influence on the path the story took. The imagery created by both songs helped set the tone of a long ride across a barren landscape in brutal heat to an unknown destiny.
As you read the dusty tales in Eerie Trails of the Wild Weird West, feel free to play the forementioned songs or create a playlist of your favorite cowboy tunes. Let the music and the stories take you back in space and time to a rowdy era where vigilante justice was the law and guns ruled the land.
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Eerie Trails… of the Wild Weird West
In this collection of fourteen strange tales from the wild west, Cowboys and Indians face down supernatural beings of all varieties – from vampires and werewolves; to ghosts and vengeful spirits; to mythological creatures.
Saddle up cowboys and ladies alike, once the journey begins, Eerie Trails of the Wild Weird West will take you down a strange and bizarre path though the old west that you’ve never been on before.
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About the Author — Maynard Blackoak is a freelance writer living in the backwoods of Pawnee County, Oklahoma. He draws upon the sights of neglect and unusual sounds around him for inspiration. A bit of a recluse, he can often be found strolling through an old, forgotten cemetery or in the woods among the twisted black oaks and native elms under the light of the moon.
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