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by Robert Lee Brewer
Recently, I had iTunes on random and a couple songs played back-to-back that had lines about writing. It didn’t take long for me to wonder, “What are the best songs for writers and about writing?” So I started making my own list, and I put out a call on Facebook and Twitter (find my handles below if you love being part of such conversations).
Anyway, this post puts together my ultimate writing mixtape of the best 20 songs for and about writers and the process of writing. Sure, there are many other great songs about the subject, and please share them in the comments below. But this is the mix I’m going to start rocking on my way to and from writer conferences, open mics, and writing retreats.
20 Best Songs for Writers and About Writing Mixtape
Track 1: “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter,” by Fats Waller
This is the perfect intro track with a bit of an instrumental opening before getting into the lyrics, which include, “I’m gonna sit right down and write myself a letter and make believe it came from you.” The song was composed by Fred E. Ahlert and Joe Young in 1935 and made popular by Waller. But it’s been covered by a range of artists, including Billy Williams, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Nat “King” Cole, Willie Nelson, Anne Murray, Linda Scott, and Paul McCartney–just to name a few.
Track 2: “I Could Write a Book,” by Dinah Washington
There are two ways to make a transition on a mixtape: smooth or jarring. Both are effective, but I prefer smooth early on in a mix. Enter this wonderful version of “I Could Write a Book,” which was a tune in the Rodgers & Hart 1940 musical Pal Joey. I first heard Harry Connick’s version from When Harry Met Sally…, but a range of artists have performed this song as well, including Ella Fitzgerald, Rosemary Clooney, and Miles Davis.
Track 3: “Dancing in the Dark,” by Bruce Springsteen
According to the Boss, “you can’t start a fire without a spark.” So here we go. The biggest hit off the bestselling album (Born in the U.S.A.) of Bruce Springsteen’s career, “Dancing in the Dark” includes the line that he’s “sick of sitting around here trying to write this book.” Musically, this song jump starts the mix with synths, quick beats, and that fade out sax.
Track 4: “Write About Love,” by Belle and Sebastian
Anyone who has participated in either my April or November poem-a-day challenges knows how I feel about love poems. So of course, Belle and Sebastian’s song “Write About Love” from the album titled Write About Love had to make the cut. In addition to the writing theme, it keeps the upbeat momentum of the early mixtape.