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Dig this version of Woodie Guthrie’s Vigilante Man by Ry Cooder. Cooder is probably best remembered these days for his work on the Crossroads soundtrack and The Buena Vista Social Club. I could tell you that he rips it up, but you can watch for yourself. Enjoy the how the tone of the slide, Cooder’s voice and the words work together to form an image of the story in your head.
Here’s an example of Cooder’s work from the Paris, Texas soundtrack. Without seeing any of the movie, images of heat and dust and desolation spring into my mind as I listen. Melancholy and loneliness drip into my emotional bucket as well.
Now watch with movie footage:
Spot on, don’t you think?
The best writing analog I can think of is Cormac McCarthy’s writing in All the Pretty Horses:
They rode out along the fenceline and across the open pasture-land. The leather creaked in the morning cold. They pushed the horses into a lope. The light fell away behind them. They rode out on the high prairie where they slowed the horses to a walk and the stars swarmed around them out of the blackness. They heard somewhere in that tenantless night a bell that tolled and ceased where no bell was and they rode out on the round dais of the earth which alone was dark and no light to it and which carried their figures and bore them up into the swarming stars so that they rode not under but among them and they rode at once jaunty and circumspect, like thieves newly loosed in that dark electric, like young thieves in a glowing orchard, loosely jacketed against the cold and ten thousand worlds for the choosing.
It’s that tone and emotion that makes writing richer, almost tangible. What are you doing to layer your writing with tone and emotion?