Inspiration Through Music: Alela Diane

I’m going to be open and honest with you. It is my belief that some video games are works of art, call them interactive works of art. I’m picky about them in that they must have some form of a story or progression and that it is unique, the atmosphere must be gripping (including visuals and music), and that the gameplay should really make one think, make one deal with psychological puzzles and decisions. When I find such a game that I’m excited about, I’ll watch a playthrough or walkthrough on it on the mighty Youtube. Recently, I’ve been swept up in the hype that is Tell-Tale’s The Walking Dead game. Having released its final episode of the first season, the conclusion blew everyone away, including me. I cried. Hard. I wasn’t the only one. Nearly every major Let’s Player that I’ve seen has also ended the game bawling their eyes out. Adding to the heart-breaking moment was an emotionally driven song from an artist I’d never heard of before, Alela Diane. I quickly searched her on Spotify and folks, I now have a new favorite singer.

Alela Diane is an American singer/songwriter from Oregon. Most of her songs are soft indie pieces that really drill you in the heart. Her style reminds me of a fusion of Dido and Patty Griffin. When she sings, she even sounds at times like Sarah McLachlan (which is saying allot!) I’ve found that while listening to her, it’s very easy to get into the heads of characters needing (but not necessarily wanting) to make a change for their own survival. You sense that quiet desperation in Diane’s voice when she sings the following six songs that I’ve selected. I’ve been inspired to work on not only my apocalyptic novel, but also my western/horror series, and even parts of a historical fiction that I abandoned long ago! Below are a selection of songs by Alela Diane and what I’ve imagined when I listen to them.

Pirate’s Gospel: She raced through the woods. Darkness had fallen nearly an hour ago. The familiar lights of town were far behind her, tucked away behind a hill. She ducked to avoid a tree branch but the sleeve of her shirt caught in some thorn bushes. She couldn’t go back. They had arrived, he had arrived, a despicable man. He was a marauder, a thief, and he’d come for no other reason than to pillage their town. At least that’s what she’d assumed. She’d heard stories. And when she’d heard the knock on her door, peered out the window and saw him, dread had rooted itself in her gut. Her father had told her to run, to escape out the back entrance. She didn’t know what had befallen him, what had befallen her ill brother. Tears fell as she freed herself and continued along toward the harbor. She knew if she could get to the family’s small boat, she might have a shot of getting away. Thunder rumbled in the distance far behind her. No. Not thunder. Horse hooves. They were coming for her.

Take Us Back: She walks alone over the ruined landscape. It used to be beautiful once, she’s sure. But now, it’s just all too quiet. And danger could come from any side, at any time. She only had the gun, something that she hated to use. She’d used it many times now, had gotten used to the buck it gave her when she fired, the way it settled in her grip when she held it. But it would always feel foreign somehow. She knew she’d continue to use it and continue to get more and more familiar with it. The sun was setting, casting her and the road ahead of her into shades of gold. She shivers, knowing she’ll need to find a place to stay the night, knowing that now that he’s not with her, things are going to be so much lonelier and quieter. All she needs is the night in a safe place, a place where she can give into her tears at losing him and then start fresh in the morning. (This could be seen in two ways. The first is as a [SPOILER] one-shot for the ending of The Walking Dead game by Tell-Tale where Clementine walks alone through the field. Or it can also be seen as a scene from my upcoming apocalyptic novel, Cold Walls. I’ve tried to keep it general enough so that it could work in either instance.)

The Ocean: She picked up the shovel, and stabbed it into the loose dirt. She worked herself up to a steady routine. Her arms burned with the effort. The snow began to fall against the grey sky. The ground was warm and gave off a strange mist that seemed to enshroud her surroundings. Deeper, she dug the hole. The sky grew darker. She lit her lantern and the single tiny flame gave her some comfort as she continued. Finally, she reached a place where she felt she could stop. The climbed out and went to her satchel that sat next to the lantern. She pulled out a shell, a book, and a small box. She drops the shell in first, remembering the ocean, a place she’d never be able to go back to. She threw in the book next, remembering her terrible last entry in it, something she wished to leave far behind her. Lastly, she held the box. She opened it and stared at the few teeth inside. They were the last reminder of him, what she’d done. She threw the box in to the hole and stared at the little items for a while. Then, she set to refilling the hole.

Every Path: She sits on her rooftop and stares out at the river. The moon is full and lightens her view of the forest. The recent rain has made the river’s current strong. It rushes, the noise loud and all-encompassing. She’s dreamed of running through those woods in the night, letting the moonlight caress her arms as she steps lightly beside the river. She wishes to see the forest uninterrupted by the day, in the silence of the dark. She wishes she could be a part of it. A crash in the house down below startles her. She wishes she could escape being human even for just one night. She wishes that was her world.

My Brambles: He returns home to her. The day has felt long and work has felt repetitive and slow. He walks up the steps through their fledgling garden to the door. He opens the door and walks inside. Her face makes him feel infinitely better. He hands her the lavender bouquet he picked in the field earlier. She takes it, a smile warming his insides as she tells him dinner will be almost ready. They’d just traveled here from several states away for his job. His partner had told him there was the offer of a lifetime for them. The camp they now found themselves in was rough around the edges but it had its lighter sides. It had promise. He had a feeling that things could be good for them here. He goes to her and wraps his arms around her middle, kissing her cheek. This place was different. Things were going to be different for them here; better.

Crying Wolf (with Alina Hardin): The grass is tall all around her. She doesn’t remember how long she’s laid there. The sky, once a light and clear blue, has now burned into near purple darkness. Stars have begun to come out, multiplying in the vast night. The wind, once warm, has now cooled and raises goosebumps on her arms. She know she should go home. She know she should. If only it was still home. The place that was once safe is no longer. Despite her wish to return to it, she knows it can no longer be safe. She has to keep moving. Just thinking about it makes her tear up. That place from all of her memories will never be the same. This night is her new friend. Traveling in it has become a way of life. But for tonight, just tonight, she will stay put. She needs some stability. Though this field isn’t safe either, she will remain hidden in the grass.

Next week on Inspiration Through Music, we’ll be getting into the Christmas season a little bit and look at the works of George Winston (one of which will be one of my favorite Christmas songs). Stay tuned!


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