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David Bowie: A Cosmic Inspiration

Bowie

So we learned today that David Bowie left us for some transcendental plane. Whether you believe in heaven or not, it’s comforting for me to think that the creative consciousness of this remarkable spirit has burst out into the cosmos and is somehow lingering among us.

Along with all the other fine tributes from folks far more talented than I – Neil Gaiman and Peter Gabriel among them – I have to step in to offer my own small account of how this artist affected me. Continue reading → David Bowie: A Cosmic Inspiration

Novel No. 2’s Soundtrack Takes Shape

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Call me an overachiever.

It’s not enough for me to just imagine characters and settings and plot and all the tasty ingredients that typically go into a novel. No, I’ve got to go the extra mile and imagine what those characters are listening to, what music might be playing the background of a given scene and what songs would accompany the film version of the story that I spend years imagining in my head.

And yes, I do it all for you, my beloved readers.

OK, not really. The fact is, I can’t help it. I’m an annoying hipster’s worth of musical knowledge packed into the body of a middle-aged prepster. The combination of the words and the music is just there, and there’s really not much I can do about it. Continue reading → Novel No. 2’s Soundtrack Takes Shape

Download It and Turn It UP! My Summer 2015 Playlist

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Summer music is a genre unto its own, and can’t be easily qualified or quantified as a particular “type.” But I’ll give it a shot.

Bright, breezy, pop or soul that doesn’t drag you down with burdensome weight. But that doesn’t mean it can’t have some guitar crunch and (maybe) a message. You just don’t want it slapping you upside the head and harshing that sweet beach or pool vibe you’ve got going on.

I’ve written here before about my own early music history, and how much of my taste (and career choices … and romantic history) was likely influenced by spending summers by the community pool in my Summerville, S.C., subdivision circa 1978 and ’79 listening to WTMA, the Charleston AM Top 40 station.

Songs like “Cruel to Be Kind,” by Nick Lowe, “Is She Really Going Out with Him?” by Joe Jackson, “The Logical Song” by Supertramp, “Let’s Go” by the Cars, “Sweet Talkin’ Woman” by the Electric Light Orchestra, “I Want You to Want Me” by Cheap Trick, and “My Sharona” by the Knack burned themselves into my preteen consciousness. Continue reading → Download It and Turn It UP! My Summer 2015 Playlist

Wednesday Writing Tip: The Best Genre is the Genre Mashup

This video, brought to us by the fine – and brilliant – folks at Postmodern Jukebox – is a stunning example of what I like to call a genre mashup.

Assuming you have any perspective on 20th century music and 21st century TV, it’ll be easy for you to get most of the references above. For those who need an education, here’s a brief breakdown. Continue reading → Wednesday Writing Tip: The Best Genre is the Genre Mashup

Funky Friday: Finding the Funk in Surprising Places

Anyone who’s spent more than 10 minutes reading past posts from this blog know that I’m a fan of fusion – both literary and musical. Some of the best examples of both come when someone known for one genre or style tries something new, or just decides to incorporate elements of the “other” into their own work.

Musically, Prince is one of my favorite examples, since his funk credentials are extensive, but the Little Purple One also has an incredible talent for penning an infectious pop song when he feels the urge. Continue reading → Funky Friday: Finding the Funk in Surprising Places

Power Pop Wednesday: Roll Your Windows Down and Turn the Stereo UP!

Technically it’s still late summer, but here in Southeastern Pennsylvania it’s starting to feel distinctly autumnal. The temperatures are more moderate, the humidity has dropped and the kids are back in school. It feels like a Ferris Bueller day – one where the conditions are so perfect that it just seems like an absolute shame to spend it trapped in a classroom or office cubicle. Continue reading → Power Pop Wednesday: Roll Your Windows Down and Turn the Stereo UP!

Entirely Biased and Totally Subjective Movie Review: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’

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What is it about the beach that makes everyone’s attitude improve?

Think about it. Everything good in life seems a little bit easier when you’re breathing sea air and basking in sunshine all day. Conversations between strangers strike up more easily. People are more attracted to each other. They’ll let you pull into traffic in front of them. And movies … movies at the beach just seem to go down a little easier, make us a little happier and add a special highlight to what’s usually a week away from “real” life. And it doesn’t even matter that the only reason you were at the movies was probably because it was raining that day.

So it was the first day of my family’s annual beach vacation in the Outer Banks of North Carolina a few weeks ago. We arrived on Sunday, and Monday turned out to be a wash as far as sunning and swimming went. And really, it provided the perfect excuse for me to round up my son and assorted other cousins and siblings (along with my 70-something aunt) to see a movie I’d been a little bit more excited about than a 45-year-old dad probably should be. Continue reading → Entirely Biased and Totally Subjective Movie Review: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’