When I was writing my first novel, Bright Lights, Big City, I pumped myself up with a soundtrack of rotating LPs in the hope of giving my prose a certain energy and beat, in the hope that some of the visceral power of rock and roll would infuse the page. Among those LPs was Joy Division’s Closer, which shared the turntable with the Talking Heads’ Remain in Light, Television, Elvis Costello’s Armed Forces, and Muddy Waters’s Hard Again. I used to play these albums loud, the idea being that I would simultaneously feel the music in my body even as my mind rose to a state of concentration fierce enough to block it out. Though I knew and had even studied the lyrics of all these albums, I was more interested, for the purposes of my writing, in the beat, and the rhythm and the mood. “No language, just sound, that’s all we need to know,” Ian Curtis wrote in “Transmission.” “To synchronize love to the beat of the show.” I don’t know how conscious a program it was, if I’m overstating it in retrospect, but I think I wanted to see if I could infuse the language with some modicum of the sheer sonic power of rock and roll, somehow transmitting the beat and the mood of my favorite rockers.
more from Jay McInerney at Vanity Fair here.