Cue the Inspiration: “It’s the End of the World”

“Why do the birds go on singing? Why do the stars glow above?”

I’ve been writing my first YA novel, and as much as I’ve enjoyed the process, it’s often felt like a death match. I’m like that guy on the garage floor, bloodied and short of breath, stretching for that just-out-of-reach crowbar. If only I could grasp it to smash my opponent, that damn story, across the skull.

Anyway: that’s all preamble. We find inspiration in all sorts of places. Small details aid us in our struggle. And for many writers, music can help set the right mood. In a recent interview here, Kurtis Scaletta said that he listened to a lot of Bob Marley while writing Mamba Point, a book set in Africa. David Simon, creator of “The Wire,” reportedly listened to a lot of music from New Orleans while working on his new HBO series, “Treme.”  In fact, he even wanted executives at HBO to listen to specific songs while reading the script. Which makes me wonder: Did Rebecca Stead listen to the $10,000 Pyramid theme song — over and over again — while writing When You Reach Me? I hope not, but you never know; writers can be a nutty bunch. It does amuse me to think of her pecking away at the keyboard while this song played on an endless loop:

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Anyway, my current book involves sixteen-year-old characters. I’m doing a lot of remembering, soul-searching. Again, not so much the specific details of that time but the essential feelings of that age. First summer jobs, first car, first love.

Somewhere along the line I remembered “The End of the World,” an amazing 1963 Skeeter Davis tune, produced by Chet Atkins, music by Arthur Kent and lyrics by Sylvia Dee. My goodness, what lyrics. Has any song better captured the heartbreak of teenage love? Absolute perfection. A song that could not possibly be better.

“I can’t understand. No, I can’t understand/How life goes on the way it does.”

Don’t you agree?

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Why does the sun go on shining?

Why does the sea rush to shore?

Don’t they know it’s the end of the world,

‘Cause you don’t love me any more?

Why do the birds go on singing?

Why do the stars glow above?

Don’t they know it’s the end of the world.

It ended when I lost your love.

I wake up in the morning and I wonder,

Why everything’s the same as it was.

I can’t understand. No, I can’t understand,

How life goes on the way it does.

Why does my heart go on beating?

Why do these eyes of mine cry?

Don’t they know it’s the end of the world.

It ended when you said goodbye.

One comment

  1. Kurtis says:

    Gorgeous song, and a new one to me. Thanks for sharing. I’ll be sure to play it over and over the day I see my next bad review.

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