Long before Dorothy came to Oz, Glinda and the Wizard changed everything.

Five songs that inspired Oz

Day after day the endless flow powers the clockwork machinery. Music flows through the gears of creativity, inspiring great stories. Picture courtesy of Pinterest (credit: The Time Machine, by Dmitriy Filippov)

Music goes hand in hand with creativity like applesauce goes with pancakes. Every author has their own music that they depend on when they build their worlds. Here is a glimpse into a few of the songs that inspired The Hidden History of Oz series, and what makes them so great.

1. Caledonia

This started out as a folk ballad in the 1970s, written by Dougie McLean. I prefer the version of Caledonia by Celtic Woman, specifically Lisa Kelly.

Why Caledonia? The name Caledonia refers to northern Britain during the Roman era, or a romantic name for Scotland. The lyrics make me long for the highlands – to go home. To go to a place that I have missed, but still hold in my heart.

I don’t know if you can see
The changes that have come over me
In these last few days I’ve been afraid
That I might drift away
I’ve been telling old stories, singing songs
That make me think about where I’ve come from
That’s the reason why I seem
So far away today

[Chorus:]
Let me tell you that I love you
That I think about you all the time
Caledonia, you’re calling me, now I’m going home
But if I should become a stranger
Know that it would make me more than sad
Caledonia’s been everything I’ve ever had

Now I have moved and I’ve kept on moving
Proved the points that I needed proving
Lost the friends that I needed losing
Found others on the way
I have kissed the fellas and left them crying
Stolen dreams, yes, there’s no denying
I have traveled hard, sometimes with conscience flying
Somewhere with the wind

[Chorus]

Now I’m sitting here before the fire
The empty room, the forest choir
The flames have cooled, don’t get any higher
They’ve withered, now they’ve gone
But I’m steady thinking, my way is clear
And I know what I will do tomorrow
When hands have shaken, the kisses float
Then I will disappear

[Chorus]

Caledonia’s been everything I’ve ever had
Caledonia’s been everything I’ve ever had
Caledonia’s been everything I’ve ever had

2. Theme from Braveheart

The movie, Braveheart, inspired me to write screenplays. The book inspired me to believe that stories can be discovered anywhere. The music plucked the strings of my soul, so that I, too, could charge the fields of Bannockburn as a warrior poet and conquer.

3. Over the Rainbow

This one is handed over on a silver platter. The iconic song belongs to Oz. Ever since MGM marketed The Wizard of Oz (1939) and Judy Garland’s version of Over the Rainbow, the song has forever been associated with the movie. However, it is not the Judy Garland version that I prefer. I happen to like the Celtic Woman acapella rendition of the song.

As I worked through many, many ideas to explore Oz in greater detail, I toyed with the idea of developing a game and a book at the same time. As part of that, I developed a mashup soundtrack and trailer for the story. It was based on video clips that I could find on youtube. My skills at that time were not great, and the source files were lost shortly after I uploaded the video. The computer crashed, leaving this version of the story in the forever land of the interwebs.

Just as a side note: one of the later stories in the Hidden History of Oz series will be called, The Clockwork Apocalypse.

4. Pure Imagination

From the movie, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971). Gene Wilder sings this song with a both a twinkle in his eye and a stillness that speaks of loneliness. He is searching for an heir to everything, for someone that will see what he sees, and not be distracted by the sweets.

To go along with this, there is a line that many people remember from the movie, “We are the music-makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.” This is often wrongly attributed to Willy Wonka. The lines actually come from a poem called “Ode”, by Arthur O’Shaughnessy.

WE are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

With wonderful deathless ditties
We build up the world’s great cities,
And out of a fabulous story
We fashion an empire’s glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song’s measure
Can trample an empire down.

We, in the ages lying
In the buried past of the earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
And Babel itself with our mirth; 20
And o’erthrew them with prophesying
To the old of the new world’s worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth.

— Arthur O’Shaughnessy (1844-1881)

5. Owl City: playlist

This one may seem like it is cheating a little bit, but there was a playlist of four songs by Owl City that I played on a repeating Spotify playlist over and over again, especially as I was proofreading the second book.

What made these songs work for me? The fast beat and positive lyrics. They are fun songs. I was able to sing along with them (with a pencil between my teeth) as I glanced back and forth between the paper manuscript and the computer screen. They became background noise for Oz as I wrote the final battle scenes in Book Two: Crown of the Dreamer. The battle wasn’t fun (mostly), but the music was. Without further ado, for your listening pleasure, here is the playlist:

Owl City playlist

Runners-Up

While not every song can be one of the five that make this list, there are several more songs and artists that inspired bits and pieces of Oz, or at least the feeling of Oz as I wrote the stories.

As an added bonus for longtime followers, here is a playlist of songs that I listened to while I was writing Book One: The Witch Queens.

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