For me writing in general and in particular my first effort, The Colonisation of Mars (TCOM) has been a profoundly personal experience. Still, I am being educated by the experience. I cannot yet bring myself to call myself a 'writer'. For me, if you don't do it (or anything for that matter) for a living, you are an 'amateur'. I am therefore, an 'amateur writer'. It doesn't mean that amateur anythings can't do 'it' well (and better than some who are pros). Being a 'professional' anything is complicated and how well you do the core activity is only part of it. So is getting paid to do 'it' only a part of it.

The effect of the music I was exposed to, chose to listen to and have stumbled upon throughout my life has been another of those profound things.

There are numerous aspects of music in TCOM that manifest themselves in chapter titles, in direct references by Sam's sometimes drug and alcohol addled mind and inferences in the description of the events by the narrator. If you recognise the source these things are obvious but if you don't, they are possibly meaningless. Even less obvious are the snippets of lyrics that have been lifted from songs and dropped into the story, usually in total separation from any hint of music, again by the narrator. Why? Good question.

Certain of life's scenes, events, moments and actions beg for musical accompaniment. No? Well, they do for me! Just watch a Marvel movie!! Deadpool? Hard to tell what came first: the storyline or the musical score?

Music can move you. We all know that; we have all experienced it to some degree. Listening to some music while far from home in remote and often alien-seeming places has quite a different influence upon my writing than it does while I am comfortably ensconced in my home office. I know; I can see it in my writing. Sometimes when I've looked at it I cannot believe I wrote this or that. I wonder if maybe that is a common experience among writers of sci-fi stories, music and political speeches.

Mike Oldfield is not everyone's favorite but his musical works have definitely influenced my writing. I first heard his Tubular Bells Opus One (debut album, released on May 25 1973) on FM radio while staring endlessly (just like the song seemed to be) out the window of the long-since-demolished McLaughlin Inn in Resolute Bay in April 1976 while attending an Arctic 'Survival' course. 'Eerie' covers that moment nicely. I bought Tubular Bells on 33rpm vinyl in 1978, binge-listened to it (4x) and quickly lost interest in it. I never listened to the 'B' side. I didn't listen to it again until the mid-90s but since then I've re-experienced that Res moment whenever I've listened to Opus One. I bought Oldfield's Guitars (released in 1999), Tre3s Lunas (2002), a 'Collection' (2002), Songs of Distant Earth (2004) and Light and Shade (2005) all within a three month period in 2009. I listened to them on the road when I was writing the initial version of TCOM1 (2008-2011). The lack of lyrics (in most of it) allowed my mind to image Martian scenes without unwanted/un-needed/biased external influence. Try that with disco playing.

Pink Floyd has been an influence too (well, actually, mostly just Roger Waters), but (believe it or not) I wasn't aware of any of their 'stuff' except Comfortably Numb and The Wall (parts of it) until about 2004 despite their early career years lining up well with my youth. Their music is for me, about personal isolation, lost chances, lost time and regret. Hmmm.

Bob Dylan's 'Not Dark Yet' (1997), from Time Out of Mind (1997) is about the same things.

Shadows are falling and I've been here all day

It's too hot to sleep, time is running away

Feel like my soul has turned into steel

I've still got the scars that the sun didn't heal

There's not even room enough to be anywhere

It's not dark yet, but it's getting there

Well, my sense of humanity has gone down the drain

Behind every beautiful thing there's been some kind of pain

She wrote me a letter and she wrote it so kind

She put down in writing what was in her mind

I just don't see why I should even care

It's not dark yet, but it's getting there

Well, I've been to London and I've been to gay Paree

I've followed the river and I got to the sea

I've been down on the bottom of a world full of lies

I ain't lookin' for nothing in anyone's eyes

Sometimes my burden is more than I can bear

It's not dark yet, but it's getting there

I was born here and I'll die here, against my will

I know it looks like I'm moving but I'm standing still

Every nerve in my body is so vacant and numb

I can't even remember what it was I came here to get away from

Don't even hear the murmur of a prayer

It's not dark yet, but it's getting there

For me, this single song summarised TCOM's main character Sam Aiken’s shared life on Earth and his isolation, alone, on a vacant and numbing Mars, for the last of his 'life'. I had a hard time resisting naming the TCOM chapter where the words were dropped (Life or Something Like it) after that song.

I have lately developed a fondness for "Melodic Techno", listening on YouTube. Usually lyric-less, it calms me, takes me where I want to go when writing, which is anywhere but here and allows me to imagine without being directed, as in directed to 'take the last train to Clarksville', or to 'love somebody, tonight' or 'get back to twerk!'

Back to TCOM. The all-pervasive ambient music (dare I say Elevator Music?) that is continuously there in the MHM (certainly), the Tube (certainly) and the Rollagon (possibly) is intended to subtly influence the Colonists' moods and actions. We are all aware that many 'expressions' from pop music have worked their way into everyday conversation. What? No? Well, they will have by 2040! Sam Aiken is, regardless, unable to escape the music of his life. Like all of us, he was exposed to, chose to listen to and stumbled upon music throughout his life too. He suffers from several minor mental conditions (that are more common than most people believe): he hears voices and odd sounds; tastes words (piney, acid, bitter) and has the normal deterioration of memory that comes with aging. He is highly self-critical and unforgiving of himself; he suffers from being deprived of human companionship; the AIs are 'not enough, not enough'. 'His' music plays in his head continually, probably to drown out the multiple condemning voices he hears. When he goes off on a rant or gets hyper-emotional, you (I) can see 'his' music spilling onto the page. Given my life experiences with music it is perhaps not surprising that the main character of my first novel is like this.

The following is a list of musical references in TCOM. Many of the chapter titles come from what I was listening to when I wrote that part. There were more, but many were too personal to me or too vague to be easily understood even by a fan of that particular piece, so I took I them out. Page numbers are from the 2019 TCOM pdf version downloaded from Smashwords. Other ebook formats may differ slightly.

Pg 14 '(Like) the club tie, the easy smile, the firm handshake, the sudden (a certain) look in the eye' from Dogs, Animals (1977), Pink Floyd - Roger Waters/David Gilmour

Pg 109 – Chapter title 'Light in the Tunnel', from Tom Cochrane and Red Ryder (1986), Tom Cochrane

Pg 146 - Chapter title 'Surfing', suggested by Surfing, from Guitars (1999), Mike Oldfield

Pg 148 - Chapter title - Four Winds, suggested by Four Winds, from Guitars (1999), Mike Oldfield

Pg 169 – 'running down 101' (or ‘running down 401’ for me), from The Barricades of Heaven, Looking East (1996), Jackson Browne

Pg 170-172 – Chapter title – Gethsemane and chapter theme suggested by Gethsemane, from The Old Kit Bag (2005), Richard Thompson

Pg 175 – Chapter title - Summit Day, suggested by Summit Day, from Guitars (1999), Mike Oldfield

Pg 179 – Chapter title -Maybe It's Alright After All, from Maybe It's Alright After All, Sonora (2001), Sonora

Pg 193 – Chapter Title- Any Colour You Like, from The Dark Side of the Moon (1973), Pink Floyd

Pg 195 – Chapter title – Watching and Waiting, from To Our Children's, Children's, Children (1979), The Moody Blues

Pg 227 - Sorrow references - Sorrow, from A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987), Pink Floyd

Pg 249 – Chapter title - Coming Back to Life, from The Division Bell (1994), Pink Floyd

Pg 263 – Chapter Title – Incantations, from Incantations (1978), Mike Oldfield

Pg 269 - Chapter title – To France, from Mike Oldfield Collection (2002)

Pg 269 – Emotion Blue, “I read your letter, it must have been a hundred times, before the words fell from the page” (Ocean Blues), from Tom Cochrane and Red Ryder (1986), Tom Cochrane.

- 'Nobody else could make him happy....', from You, from Best of Bonnie Raitt (2002), Bob Thiele

– 'The Untouchable One', “She's her own girl, her own design, she holds her head high, hides her scars just fine”, and “She's been through a lot, you can tell, as hard as it gets baby, she holds it well, don't try to change her, no, she will not bend.” from Tom Cochrane and Red Ryder (1986), Tom Cochrane

Pg 271 – Chapter title, theme of chapter, some text and lyrics, from Sky Blue and Black, from I'm Alive (1993), Jackson Browne. This one hurts.

Pg 274 – 'Miracle', from Divinity Burst (1993)

- 'star was light in a silvery night....' from Moonlight Shadow, Mike Oldfield Collection (2002)

- 'big money.....', from The Big Money, from Power Windows (1985), Rush

Pg 275 Chapter title – The Gate, from Mike Oldfield Collection (2002)

Pg 276 – 'isn't it strange how dreams fade and shimmer', from Moonlight Shadow, from Mike Oldfield Collection (2002)

Pg 277 Chapter title – Running on Empty, from Running on Empty (1997), Jackson Browne

Pg 279 – Chapter title – 'Clocks' and words, from A Rush of Cold Blood to the Head (2004), Cold Play and Keep Talking, from The Division Bell (1994), Pink Floyd

Pg 280-281 – theme and words, from Not Dark Yet, from Time Out of Mind (1997), Bob Dylan

Pg 289 – Chapter title - First Steps, suggested by First Steps, from Light and Shade (1995) Mike Oldfield

Pg 291 – Chapter title - Sunset, suggested by Sunset, from Light and Shade (1995) Mike Oldfield

Pg 292 – Chapter title - Coming Back to Life, suggested by lyrics of song of same name, from The Division Bell (1994) Pink Floyd’

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