What’ll I do?

There’s a song by Irving Berlin. It opened The Great Gatsby (1974). It plays though the opening credits–setting up the story. You see many the small luxuries that fill Gatsby’s life, including numerous photos of Mia Farrow portraying Daisy Buchanan. The song is titled, What’ll I do.

What’ll I do, when you are far away, and I am blue, what’ll I do?

What’ll I do, when I am wond’ring who is kissing you, what’ll I do?

When I write, I listen to music. If I were to weigh writing against music and how long they’ve been in my life–music would actually win by two years. It is something that feeds my soul just as much, if not more, than reading. A melody and words. How can you beat that?

film dancing broadway funny face fred astaire

So when I set out to write a novel there is a song list involved. It may never show up in the manuscript–but it’s there. With the new title I’m working on, What’ll I do, snuck into the folds of a playlist that includes tracks from Nirvana, Rage Against the Machine, and Fugazi.

You may be wondering how.

How could something as desperate and lingering as this classic tune ever fit next to Smells Like Teen Spirit? But that’s life for you. It never quite fits… You find yourself sitting around talking to your MC, and she smiles at you with that gleam in her eyes. You recognize it instantly because it’s reminds you why she’s doing what she’s doing–and suddenly I know the answer to, “What’ll I do,” where she’s concerned.

What’ll she do? Let’s just say it may not be the best way to deal with things…

I can’t image I’m the only person who uses music to help set moods and tones. Is this something you do? What songs have found their magical way onto your writing playlist that you never thought would be there?

I shall await your answer as I sway to Irving Berlin… When I’m alone with only dreams of you, what’ll I do?


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