Saturday, May 20, 2006

The Greatest Knight: The Soundtrack!

An important part of the creative process for me as a writer is the use of music. I don't actually listen to it while I'm writing, but while I'm away from the PC doing mundane jobs, I will listen to tracks which I think suit the situations and the emotional resonances of my characters. I use music to build moods and motivations, to inspire and help me understand. This particular trait has been with me ever since I started writing stories down. Long before films and adverts were using popular music to sell their product, I was visualising my novels to a soundtrack. Indeed, I didn't know whether to be delighted or miffed when the film A Knight's Tale came out with a rock soundtrack - cos I wuz there first!
These days when I complete a novel, part of the submission package to my agent and editor, includes the double CD soundtrack which tells the storyline in song. I receive loud complaints if I don't include it!
You would think that writing Medieval fiction, my choice would be Gregorian chant and material from the period, but not so. My taste is wildly eclectic but with a definite leaning towards rock, metal, Goth etc. As far as I'm concerned, attitudes change but emotions don't and that's what I'm seeking in the soundtrack. Something to evoke emotion...and mood. It has to give me that adrenaline buzz when I hear it, otherwise it doesn't make the cut. I confess to turning my agent onto Meat Loaf due to one such soundtrack. It was For Crying Out Loud and the grand finale to Lords of the White Castle. My agent would not normally have listened to Meat Loaf of her own accord, but exposed in this manner, she was blown away and became an instant fan. She even dragged me off to Wembley Stadium to his farewell concert in December 04. And all because of the 13thC Fulke FitzWarin and my desire to tell his life in song!
The Greatest Knight is due out in paperback at the beginning of July. (no, for all the hoards of you who have asked, I do not have the phone number of the guy who modeled for the cover image shot!) so I thought I'd post the soundtrack story notes to my blog.

All the tracks have had their part to play, but some have been there from almost the beginning and have had a more major role. Stand out tracks for me creatively have been Rufus Wainwright’s Hallelujah and very strongly Don Henley’s rendering of the Cohen written Everybody Knows, which was just so appropriate on so many levels. Billy Joel’s All About Soul and Evanescence’s Bring Me to Life were very useful for defining the relationship between William and his wife, Isabelle de Clare. See what you think!

The Voice – single Instrumental track from the Eurovision song contest winning Irish entry The Voice. I used the vocal version in LORDS OF THE WHITE CASTLE and I felt this was appropriate as Fulke FitzWarin and William Marshal were contemporaries, and I like the narrative lilt of the instrumental – makes a good introduction before getting down to the story.

Relax – Frankie Goes to Hollywood. From the album Bang! The best of… I’ve used this in similar circumstances in THE CHAMPION. Hero is faced with a test which will take skill and control when he is thrown into the thick of it. I used this and the next track for the fight at Drincourt while William is still a raw recruit.

Fight – No Vacancy. From the album School of Rock. No finesse about this, but I love the energy in it and very useful for writing a battle scene.

Fell on Hard Times – Neal Casal. From the album Anytime Tomorrow. William is forced to sell his cloak to buy a horse. I loved the fact that Casal sings as part of the lyrics ‘I sold my green leather jacket,’ because it’s a direct link to William having to sell his cloak.

Goddess in the Doorway – Mick Jagger. From the album Goddess in the Doorway. William first sets his eyes on Eleanor of Aquitaine and he’s captured for life!

She’s Always A Woman – Billy Joel. From the album Ultimate Collection. More of Eleanor of Aquitaine, not just as William sees her but as others do too.

I want it all – Queen. From the album Greatest Hits. Again used in THE CHAMPION. This partly refers to William, but mostly to the Young King, who does ‘want it all.’

Would you – Touch & Go. Clara’s propositioning of William! Definitely a fun number. I don’t even particularly like this song, but it just so suits the incident!


Addicted to Love – Robert Palmer. From the Album Addictions. More like addicted to lust! The first rush between Clara and William.

What About Love – Heart. From the Album Greatest Hits. Clara isn’t getting all she wants from the relationship.

You’re So Vain – Carly Simon. From the compilation album The Story and the Song. This and the next one are all about The Young King and his inflated ego.


That Don’t Impress Me much – Shania Twain from the album Come on Over. Definitely sums up The Young King. Yes, he had the brains, the looks, the kit, ‘You think you’re cool, but have you got the touch?’


Halleluljah – Rufus Wainwright. From the album soundtrack to Shrek. This is an all purpose powerful, poignant, tears to the eyes sad song to cover the themes of Clara’s leaving, the death of the Young King and the loss of William’s youthful optimism and innocence. Hard to know where to put it in the soundtrack as it could have gone in several places.

Disc 2

Don’t Speak – No Doubt. Single. The end of the relationship between William and Marguerite seen from her viewpoint

Everybody Knows – Don Henley. From the album Tower of Song. Another Leonard Cohen penned number like Hallelujah. William under pressure at the Young King’s court as everything falls apart. Very pertinent lyrics. They cover the back-biting and bitchiness of the court, the suggested affair between William and Marguerite (seen from the Young King’s viewpoint) and the final quarrel with the Young King from William’s vp. ‘Everybody knows it’s coming apart, take one last look at this sacred heart before it blows…everybody knows…’

Over The Hills And Far Away – Nightwish. Traditional song rendered in Nightwish’s inimitable style. This was in the soundtrack early on for William’s supposed adultery with the Young Queen. Not all the lyrics fit now, but it still conveys some of the underlying emotions, and I love it!

The Leaving Song - A.F.I From the album Sing the Sorrow . One of my youngest’s favourite bands and standing for A Fire Inside. This is William’s down and depressed time after he leaves The Young King, and then the Young King’s Death. Should be tied in with Everybody Knows and aforementioned Hallelujah.

Protocol – Gordon Lightfoot. From the album Summertime Dream. William joins Henry II. The soldier’s code. Sad and poignant.

The Clasp – Jethro Tull. From the Album The Broadsword and the Beast. Political wheeling and dealing.

Easily – Red Hot Chili Peppers. From the album Californication. William’s coming to terms with all he’s been through, shaking it off and becoming determined to be his own man. Involves his spirituality too. ‘Shaolin shaking for the sake of his soul, everything must go.’) I like the line ‘Throw me to the wolves because there’s order in the pack.’ Also ‘You think it’s almost over but it’s only on the rise.’ Which is what William did think at the death of Henry II. He believed he was done for, but he was indeed ‘only on the rise.’


These Dreams – Heart. From the album Greatest Hits. Isabelle dreaming at the Tower when William comes for Heloise

Bring Me To Life – Evanescence. From the album Fallen. Isabelle and William’s meeting and marriage. They both need each other and this song reflects their mutual emotions. I love the juxtaposition of delicacy and raw rock.


God Gave me Everything – Mick Jagger. From the album Goddess in the Doorway. William has everything. Lands, prestige, power, a lovely young wife, and an heir.

Vindicated – Dashboard Confessional. From the film soundtrack to Spiderman 2. A bitter song that totally reflects William’s brothers state of mind. He knows he’s a failure and now he’s proved it, he’s vindicated.

Fields of Gold – Sting. From the compilation Album Simply Acoustic. William’s brother bids farewell. It’s the antidote to Vindicated, poignant and sad.

All About Soul – Billy Joel from the album Ultimate collection disc 2. – William and Isabelle’s relationship after the struggles of the past five years seen from William’s viewpoint.




3 comments:

Marg said...

Thanks for posting this. It is very interesting having read this book not too long ago.

Julia Williams said...

Hi Elizabeth,

I know we share an obsession with Rock Music - and Hallelujah in particular! Will be hotfooting it to get my copy of The GK as so tardy about getting the paperback. Having listened to the S&S soundtrack with enthusiasm, I know I'm going to enjoy this...

The climax to the last section of my wip is Fix You by Coldplay.... Lights will guide you home, and ignite your bones, and I will fix you. Fab. And just perfect for my lovely hero...

Love Julesxxxx

welshficwitch said...

Thanks so much for posting! I use SO MANY of those songs for the online medieval writing I do!

Have a look for Hand of Sorrow by Within Temptation...there's a whole story in there and it's just brilliant! and so inspiring!

Love that you do the playlists/albums as well! I'm on my fourth compilation for one couple! It's amazing how many songs just hit the right notes (i swear no pun intended).

Holz