Languages and Music

I love this job! When I was younger, I just couldn’t get excited about any career because all I wanted to do was play and listen to music, learn languages and write stories. And I’ve finally combined them into the best job in the world!

I’ve written lots of posts about how music influences my writing, but this post will combine the music and languages. I started listening to music in Spanish quite a few years ago, now, and have learnt a surprising amount of the language that way (although of course I had to take actual classes to learn how to order a coffee!) The result of all that love for music in Spanish, was my first novel, My Christmas Number One.

Now I’ve been writing so many books set in Italy, I’m gradually discovering music by Italian musicians that I like. In between my contracted books, I also wrote a romance set in a fictionalised Eurovision Song Contest just for fun and it was set in Berlin, with contestants from all over the continent.

I now have a whole range of songs I love in four languages (five if you count Veneto dialect as a language separate from Italian!), so I thought I’d share a few that have been setting the mood for my recent projects.

The first is Tage Wie Diese by the Toten Hosen. It has a real feeling of summer longing, expecially acute in this pandemic, of going to large events and having a crazy time. I listened to the Toten Hosen back in the nineties when I was learning German and it takes me back to my teenage years. Incidentally, this song also shows the annoying complexity of the German language. The song is called ‘Tage Wie Diese’, but to sing along, you have to sing ‘an Tagen wie diesen’, with the endings, because the preposition ‘an’ takes the dative case. *facepalm*

The next song is Puebla by Alvaro Soler. It’s a cute little song with lots of repetition and some catchy clappy bits. Alvaro Soler actually lives in Berlin (and I saw him in concert in 2019!) and I did see a Tweet this year suggesting he should have represented Spain at Eurovision instead of the weird moon guy. This was a mood song for my Eurovision book definitely, and has carried on into the summer feeling of the second Venice book.

I’ve already written a post about the Rumatera song called Venice being the anthem of both of my Venice books, but this song, called Ghe Sboro (a common Venetian exclamation that sounds a bit rude but isn’t really meant to be rude), came out of the first book. These guys sing in Veneto dialect (usually – they have some songs in English and at least one in Italian that I’ve found, a song called ‘A Song in Italian’). They do a great job of combining the jaw-dropping old city of Venice with irreverent punk rock with an ironic edge. I love the word ‘autoironia’ in Italian. You can kind of guess what it means. They also have a song called ‘Ciao Bella’, which is in English and absolutely hilarious. It’s about them going to LA and trying to make a good impression on women (‘Oooh Italian boys in LA’).

This list wouldn’t be complete without the song that actually links my two current works-in-progress. I wrote the Eurovision book before this year’s contest (and then had a good laugh when a few of the things I’d written actually happened – but that’s for another post). But of course Italy won (I’m not saying if that happens in my book), which brought me nicely back to book 4, set in Venice.

This last song is an artist my kids like, but I love this song. This joined my favourite songs playlist during the editing of Italy Ever After and the subject matter (the singer is telling someone they’re worth so much more than they think – the main line of the chorus is ‘and the choirs sing for you ohohoh’) suits Italy Ever After. But this is most definitely the soundtrack in my mind when all of the contestants arrive in Berlin for contest week in my Eurovision book, with a montage of scenes from Berlin. That’s for when it gets made into a film! LOL. It hasn’t even been made into a book, yet.

So there you have an eclectic mix of songs in various languages that are keeping me in the writing zone at the moment!

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