One of the first songs that inspired me was Angry Eyes by Loggins and Messina — "What a shot you could be/if you could shoot at me/with those angry eyes." I spent a lot of time listening to that song writing my first novel-length story (it was horrible, will never see the light of day).
Lyrics can be very provocative. If it’s a good song, it was written that way. They are designed to make you think. Novels should be the same, written in such a way that they make you think. I'm always impressed when I hear a simile or metaphor I've not heard before, or the turn of a phrase that makes me stop and think. Some lyrics that come immediately to mind:
- I love you like a fat kid loves cake
- Lived her life like a candle in the wind
- Life is a highway, I want to ride it all night long
- You change your mind like a girl changes clothes (one of my favorites)
Ten years ago, I struggled to come up with a "catchy" title for The Treasure of St. Paul. When I revisited it to re-release it, I couldn't get Carly Simon's song out of my mind, and so decided to retitle it—Touched by the Sun.
There is a song to fit every occasion, and sometimes musical artists lend inspiration to ideas already percolating, or sometimes they inspire new ideas.