Inspiration Through Music: NEEDTOBREATHE

I’ve mentioned before the marriage of a musical artist and a particular story. It seems to be rare for me when just one artist really meshes with a certain character so that no matter what you listen to, it just seems to spur you on to tell more of the story. I have problems sometimes with stories who have numerous characters because it constantly requires me to shift around in music in order to find the right mood that fits the scene, something I can get lost in. A few weeks ago, while browsing the music on Spotify, I came across NEEDTOBREATHE, a band whom I’d never heard of. When I listened to a few of their songs, I recognized them from pieces I’d heard on the radio and immediately after listening to their album “The Outsiders”, I purchased it. I listened to that album for a few days in the car, and when I listened to their newest album, I had all I needed to get inside the head of one of my favorite characters.

NEEDTOBREATHE is an American rock band from South Carolina that assembled in 1998. Having listened to several of their songs, including the absolutely perfect “Drive All Night”, I discovered that the lyrics and style of music spoke to my character, Spencer, from “Night Time, Dotted Line.” This project has been one that I’ve been working on for a long time. I cite many reasons for it not being done yet. It is a much lighter story than what I normally write and definitely more humorous though it does deal with some themes, trust being a big one. Spencer has decided to go on a spur-of-the-moment road trip with a stranger, Calleigh, a woman who seems very free-spirited and doesn’t seem to have any attachments. After his recent divorce, Spencer feels like this could be the trip that alters his life from the monotony it’s become. NEEDTOBREATHE’s lyrics are heartfelt and really cut into the thoughts that Spencer has as he undergoes this trip and his slow change. Today, I’ll be sharing five songs with you and what I imagine when I listen to them.

Something Beautiful: He thinks about the apartment he left behind, practically empty. It’s a shell, a place he used to live in that he felt like he was losing himself in everyday. But ever since he made the decision to climb in that car and go with a woman he didn’t know, his life has become a journey. The road has finally come to an end and he finds himself realizing that he doesn’t want it to. He doesn’t want to go back to the way that things were. He’s seen so many gorgeous things along his trip. He’s also witnessed that people can truly open up, that they can change. They can find trust, even after bad things have happened, making it hard to believe in that trust. It happened to him. He never thought he’d be opening up to anyone again and certainly didn’t think it would be with this girl. He’s found something, someone beautiful.

Drive All Night: He glances over at her asleep in the passenger seat. Even the dog is asleep in the back. He rubs his eyes and stares at the road ahead in the darkness. There’s a certain meditation with driving for many hours late at night. He begins to think about his job, about the sadness he feels when he goes to it and the anger he feels when he’s at home. He misses this interaction with people. It’s been years since he’s traveled like this, years since he’s talked with someone like this woman. And despite his never-ending complaints, he finds he’s actually liking this trip. Bleary headlights pass over him and the car. They’re only half way across the country, half-way to their destination. He doesn’t have any idea what’s waiting for him when they reach the end of the road but somehow, he feels oddly ready for whatever life intends to throw at him. He relaxes a little deeper into the seat and sighs. A long night driving is alright by him.

More Time: She’s reassured him that his life doesn’t need to be lonely. Yet, he still has trouble reaching out. He’s too afraid. The last time he reached out like this, the last time he needed someone’s hand to help him out of the hole he’d fallen, he got left. That person had left him. What made him so sure this would be any different? Saying and doing were two separate things. If she saw the problems he had, would she still be saying the same thing. He worried, so much that it kept him awake at night. He worried that this whole trip had been for nothing. But every time he looks at her, he feels a speck of something. Maybe everything will be okay. If only he could make himself let go of all the past hurt. He needs more time.

Able: He walks the street at night. It’s been a whirlwind day. He can hardly believe that he made the decision to leave. Watching her drive away had opened up a chasm in him that he thought he’d never feel again. But what was done was done. He’d take a taxi to the airport and take the plane back home, back to that empty apartment and to the equally empty job. Maybe it was silly to imagine that everything would change during one road trip. It was more work than just that to change your life. He looks up and sees her car parked on the side of the road up ahead. She’s parked in front of the only hotel in town, the same place he’d rented a room earlier that evening. The more he stares at the car, the more he finds himself dreading to go back. The more he realizes that he’d much rather be out here arguing with her than sitting in some office chair. He goes inside the hotel. Maybe there’s still a way to patch things up.

The Outsiders (Acoustic Version): They climb back in the car. She is still oddly silent after what happened in the diner. He wants to ask her about it but won’t. She’s also still gloating about how he made such a big deal that the place would be bad… and was proven wrong. He wonders how much longer she would keep up her thorny attitude and can tell that she’s annoyed by his sarcasm and his judgement of things based on how they appear. He can’t help it. It’s how he’s always been. And he can tell that there’s something about her that keeps her from really getting to know people, from taking any appreciation from strangers. As she shifts the car into gear and drives them back onto the highway, he can tell that this road trip is going to be a long one. Hopefully it would be worth it.

Next week on Inspiration Through Music, we’ll be looking at prolific video game composer, Jesper Kyd and some of his brilliant and atmospheric compositions! Stay tuned!



2 thoughts on “Inspiration Through Music: NEEDTOBREATHE

    • Thanks! Some musicians and bands just fit with this character so well. NEEDTOBREATHE is definitely one of those. They’re such a great band.

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