Updated: Feb 19, 2022
*I DO NOT OWN THE RIGHTS TO ANY OF THE FOLLOWING MUSIC*
When I’m writing, or brainstorming, or even just driving in the car, music is a very important tool I utilize to get me into the correct headspace. Whether or not I willingly search for music to fit or I’m randomly at work and a song pops on that I’m like that’s it!, music has helped me quite a bit in figuring out how IT STARTS WITH ME was going to play out.
So, here is a list of songs to help you get in the mood as well. These are the songs that helped me when I was writing, so I hope it will be interesting for those who are reading. *Please note that I do NOT own the rights to any of this music, nor am I claiming any of the songs to be my own creation*
Each one comes with a description to get inside my head and is in chronological order, more or less, in hopes to tell the story through music, and while I know there are other authors to have done similar things with their novels in the past, I still think it’s a fascinating concept.
Songs can be interpreted in many different ways depending on who is listening and that is the most interesting thing about it all. Therefore, even if these songs were originally supposed to have different meanings, I found them to connect to the story in some way or another and I feel they help the story come alive.
It Starts With Me by Stick to Your Guns:
This is the song that started it all. I’d been playing around with a concept in my head for a while, about a girl and her dog, and then I’d been in the car listening to this song and I just felt the story come to life. This is the song that set the scene; the song that the novel is named after.
Imagine you’re seeing the grim surroundings as Amity is riding on her bike through town. You here the chant of the rioter she passes as he shouts “what choice do we have!” just before he’s about to be killed. You can hear the desperation in his voice.
This song is about injustice and trying to fight it. Everything about it fits wonderfully with the dusty and dreary dystopian vibe of the town and it is a perfect opening song.
BLURRY (Out of Place) by Crown the Empire:
This is the song I imagine is playing through Amity’s mind as she runs away from her father. In this song, there is a callback line to one of Crown the Empire’s other songs in which he comments on his thoughts of the direction that society is headed.
Crown the Empire has always been a voice for change and pointing out some of the issues with society and their songs seem to fit a lot of what I was going for. This particular song, I imagine Amity feeling like she’d made a mistake. She feels out of place and wondering why her decision to run and save her sister didn’t make her feel a little more grounded.
The line “bend and break to see through the lines/it’s easier than saying goodbye” I imagine is how she feels about her sister. She would do anything for Emma and it’s easier for her to smear the ideas of a decently planned escape than for her to say goodbye to her sister forever.
Dark by Breaking Benjamin:
This song has four different parts for me. All about Luke. Aptly named, I think it shows all the darker, harder, more primal parts of Luke’s personality.
0:00-0:40 I imagine as Amity meeting Luke for the first time. She’s studying him, trying to understand the feeling that’s pushing into her chest and the mood of the song fits perfectly for that.
0:50-1:05 Is what I hear when I’m reading about the boy’s death in the woods. Luke knows the officer so he’s feeling dark already, but Amity feels numb and just wants to feel safe. The slight pick-up in the song fits perfect for the both of them.
1:05-1:35 is Luke and Amity's kiss. The build-up of the harmony and the way the music opens up just goes with the feelings of that moment in which both are really letting go
Finally, there’s 1:36-2:11 and I imagine this during the scene in which Luke is faced with killing Trixie.
Dawn by Breaking Benjamin:
Dawn is the opposing song for Luke. The one that shows his softer, more human sides. This is the background music for when Luke and Amity are in the house, when he’s distraught over his family, and by the lake when Amity leans into him. Most definitely, after Zach.
The song has a sort of sad, calming effect that I feel fits well with them and their situations together. More importantly, it completes the “Dark before Dawn” idea of the album it’s from which is not relevant but cool nonetheless.
Fate by Our Last Night:
This song is all about Lacy. There’s not an exact spot in which I feel this song helps me picture what’s happening, it’s more of her background motivational song.
At best, this is what I imagine as she’s cursing out the Reaver after she’s just witnessed the family in the woods being shot by an A.L.F. squad. Lacy wants to love who she wants and experience the joy of having children.
The poor boy in the woods was never going to be given a chance because his parents were lesbian and, rightfully so, Lacy is pissed. She’s wondering if there is anything that can be done at all. It’s one thing to know that these things are going on, but until you witness it yourself, the full effect can certainly be missed.
Feel Something by Illenium, Excision, and I Prevail:
0:00-1:03 This part of the song makes me feel something alright. I imagine a birds eye shot of Amity as it twists slowly away while she’s laying on the ground after watching Luke kill Trixie.
In this particular scene, she’s questioning whether or not she can go on, the weight of her decision just too much for her to handle.
From 1:04-1:30 I imagine Luke calling to her and finally as the music breaks, I feel like that’s when Luke picks her up and pushes her the extra bit that she needs.
Killing Me Slowly by Bad Wolves:
This is Luke’s song. In a similar fashion with Lacy’s, there’s not a specific time that it helps me picture.
However, I do imagine it playing through Luke’s head after Amity apologizes to him in the woods, after he tries to kiss her but is again thwarted by Amity’s tough walls.
I feel this is the perfect song for Luke’s anthem to Amity. He is a man that has a hard time dealing with his feelings. He sees Amity is partial to him, or at least hopes so, but he also feels as though Mason will win because of Luke’s shortcomings.
And on the same note, I feel that this song might also fit Amity in a similar way. Both of the characters are struggling with the feelings they have and this song is a great embodiment of that.
Wicked Game by Theory of a Deadman:
I had been searching for the perfect song for when Amity and Luke finally seal the deal and lo and behold, here is the song. I was actually at work when it popped on and I was like, “wait this is perfect!”
Amity knows how fierce love can be, but she’s tried to tune it out after loss became a regular occurrence in her life. She is also struggling with the separation from her sister and father and is terrified to lose anyone, understandably so.
She believes that if you don’t get close to someone, then it can’t hurt you if they leave. However, Luke is charming and he convinces Amity that love is not a weakness, but a strength. That, combined with Amity’s desperation to feel normal creates a heady combination.
Therefore, this song fits perfectly. The words, the mood. The final words of the song resonate the most with me and I think would resonate with Amity and Luke in the same way.
Gold (Stupid Love) by Excision:
0:00-1:15 Is what I imagine is going through Amity’s head when Lacy suggests she walk. The voice and the subtle music in the background for the beginning really help me imagine her just trudging through the woods for some reason, leading her directly to the point of the wolves.
When the singer breaks out with “it’s all gold” I imagine that’s when she slows and the wolves are in the distance. I’m not exactly sure why, but it definitely helped me get in the mindset for this scene.
The Funeral by Band of Horses:
This is the song I chose for Zach’s death scene. To me, it really encapsulates the feelings that Amity has. The only thing that Amity truly hurt up until this point was the wolf in the woods, and even then, she never killed it. Any killing was always done by someone else from the group or Sarge.
This scene is where she realizes that desperation really does do strange things to human beings and in a society of oppression, exploitation, hatred, etc, you may end up doing things that you wouldn’t dare think about in a “normal” society. Zach wanted to take control of his own death and the opening part of the song really helps me feel the pain that Amity feels in her chest as she tightens her fingers around his throat.
This song also seems to suggest the listener should be ready for the worst to come. People are dying all around Amity. The boy and his parents in the woods, the officers, the random commoners that stumble upon their camp, Grace, her mother, Trixie, now Zach. The list goes on and she realizes that at any moment, in the society she lives in, you must always be ready for a funeral.
what I am by Crown the Empire:
This is the song that gets me pumped up for the ending chapters with all the action. It's what I imagine as Mason, Amity, Luke, and Sarge are all fighting in their badassery way, shooting, and punching, and clawing their way to get to Emma. It's really self explanatory!
Secret Door by Evanescence:
I put a lot of thought into which song would go in this important slot. I wanted a beautiful piano intro and soft words from a female voice. I scoured the internet and found a few different songs that parts matched but others were too far off to push through.
I finally settled on this one. It’s melody and tune are sad sounding and yet the words are positive. It is a perfectly bittersweet song that I feel fits best in such a spot. I imagine Amity seeing Emma for the first time in over two months and watching her close her eyes for the last time.
Everything is in slow motion as she drops to the ground and cries. She cradles Emma to her as the melody continues, holding her as the beautiful and fragile little girl she is. As the chorus breaks, I imagine the transition to the viewing. A beautiful and natural ceremony where the bleak colors of the world become bright as Amity searches for the most perfect flowers and leaves to properly display Emma.
The words are positive and I imagine it would be Amity’s inner monologue, telling herself that even though she just lost her favorite person, she will fly again and she will be fine. It’s important because, even though she is sad, this on top of the other deaths is the reason she decides to kickstart the rebellion.
One particular line that stands out for me is “all life lives on if we’ve ever loved it”, and I think it fits perfectly for anyone who has lost someone they really loved because they are living on through our everyday lives. Amity wants to fight the rebellion for Emma, for Zach, for Trixie, to avenge their deaths and to prevent anyone from having to feel the same way, and in that, Emma and the others live on in Amity’s heart.
The Phoenix Reborn by Crown the Empire:
This is what I imagine to be the credits song. I can feel this song building up, tying the sadness of the last scene to the powerful feeling that Amity feels as she decides she’s going to be the start of the rebellion.
This song is basically the one that foreshadows future events. It starts off slow and builds into a powerful battle of intensity and I think it perfectly shows the growth that Amity went through. She starts off always anxious and scared of what’s going on and then she becomes filled with all these different emotions that help fuel her desire to fight back against the Guardianship.