Tyler & Stella’s playlist had to be emotional, conflicted and ultimately positive, so I wanted to share some songs that inspired me.
Music has always been an essential part of my life, but it has an unusual place in my writing—I love it while I’m brainstorming and formatting, and hate it while I’m deep in drafting or editing. I think my mind wanders when there are lyrics that demand a listen.
When I’m songwriting (for a book), I often have a few melodies in my head to help with the mood and phrasing. I’ve included these here.
Just Give me a Reason: P!nk, Nate Ruess
The theme of Tyler & Stella is that no matter how broken a person might be, they are capable of healing and worthy of love.
Caramel: Suzanne Vega
A song of wanting what you can’t have, perfect for Tyler, who’s torn between an ugly secret that holds him back and the woman he wants more than anyone.
There’s something so intimate about this song, as if a magic moment (like night swimming) can only happen this once. That’s what the kiss on the bridge feels like.
Mysterious Ways: U2
Girls befuddle Tyler, and Stella most of all. But Stella’s so unlike the overly made up, drooling groupies, and the touches between them are electric.
Fade Into You: Sam Palladio, Clare Bowen
Tyler and Stella make the wrong choices when they follow their heads instead of their hearts. This song speaks to that longing and conflict.
Let Her Go: Passenger
It’s said that absence makes the heart grow fonder—I think this is especially true for Tyler & Stella, because the moments of loss bring up feelings that are more intense than they initially admit.
Between the Bars: Elliott Smith
Stella uses alcohol to smooth her rough edges and forget the person she used to be. This song feels right for the conflict between the promise of Tyler and other men who push Stella to be what they want.
Lego House: Ed Sheeran
Another song of healing, suggested by a reader. “If you’re broken, I’ll mend you, and keep you sheltered from the storm.” I also love the words that speak to loving someone better despite what’s broken.
Make You Feel My Love: Adele
Tyler makes so many beautiful tiny gestures, ways he shows Stella he cares for her without words. My favorite? Orange curtains.
Feel so Close: Calvin Harris
Love can make you feel invincible, and that’s definitely what Stella feels when she’s willing to expose her worst secrets to save Tyler from his.
When You Come Back Down: Nickel Creek
This is one of two songs that gave me a feel for the untitled song that Tyler writes for Stella. (The other is “Make You Feel My Love.” Imagery of ragged wings, angels and flight are all part of the book.
The Vision: Victor Wooten
The bassist who inspired Tyler Walsh told me bassist Victor Wooten “is like the god of bass,” and after listening to some of his performances, I agree. Some of his unpublished tracks on YouTube are also highly recommended, such as “Isn’t She Lovely?” and “Amazing Grace.”