I’m sure somebody has said this, and probably many times, but Don Henley makes the sound of a seagull in his song The Boys of Summer.¬†It’s one of those small effects that puts the audience into the setting of the song. It gives the lyrics a physical space. Richard Hugo says this in his book¬†The Triggering Town:

Since the method you are chasing involves words that have been chosen for you by your obsessions, it may help to use scenes (towns perhaps) that seem to vivify themselves as you remember them but in which you have no real emotional investment other than the one that grows out of the strange way the town appeals to you, the way it haunts you later when you should be thinking about paying your light bill.

Granted, the sound is not a word, but it has this same function: it’s the main obsession of the poem. That obsession is the sound of a scavenging animal confined to one particular habitat. The song is about longing, nostalgia, restlessness.

Can you think of any other songs that mimic a subtle but iconic sound to establish setting or emotional context?

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