Well, I don’t know about you, but around these parts it’s been kind of a rough week. I won’t go into the particulars, because what’s done is done, but I will suggest that now is the time, if you’ve been feeling a little down, to re-motivate yourself in a positive direction.
None of you will be surprised that the way I try to lift my spirits is through music. And while you might have felt more mournful than celebratory over the last seven days, I would suggest that it’s time for the mourning period to be over. Quit your bitchin’ and get to work. Continue reading → Power Pop to Help You Power Through, Good People
Like most Beatles fans, there was a time when we hoped the band would somehow reunite for just one last show. That hope took a nosedive first with the shooting death of John Lennon, then George Harrison’s death from cancer.
Along the way, we got a few tidbits, including a new song by the surviving members (Harrison, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney) remixed with archival recordings of John Lennon for a best-of collection back in the 1990s. Honestly, that was just a little creepy – basically the three survivors discovering ghost tracks on an old reel, writing a little music around it and deciding to send it out into the world anyway.
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.
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!
In 1974, when this song came out, I was 6 years old, and yet I find that memories of it playing on AM radio still bubble up from way back then.
It was one of those songs that, in retrospect, should have told me that I would eventually become a huge fan of the source material the Raspberries tapped, which was really Rubber Soul– and Revolver-era Beatles.
It’s also a reminder, at least for me, not to do anything half-assed. Granted, that sort of going all the way isn’t exactly what the song is about (you can read about that in another posting), but it never hurts to have little musical cues throughout your playlist reminding you to take care of business … as in actual business, rather than the other kind of wink-wink, nudge-nudge business.
As a lover of early ’90s alternative rock, it’s practically illegal for me to NOT like Liz Phair.
Oh, Liz, with your girl-I-would-date looks and WAY-out-of-my-league fantastically filthy mind, you charmed me to no end with your ability to wield a guitar and sweet-talk into the microphone with a voice built for power-pop, all while looking … well … like that. *Sigh*
Music, much like smell, is a powerful memory trigger. Just as a whiff of a lover’s old cologne or perfume can ignite an encyclopedia of emotions, music carries with it the ability to draw a person back to a particular time, place or emotional state.
Personally, I think everyone has a time during their life when they’re especially susceptible to an imprint tied to music. And because an important key in being an effective writer is being able to tap into real emotions, music can be a tool for that.
For me, one of the first moments I recall music directly tied to emotion was as a pre-teen in the late 1970s. Disco was at its height and somewhere out of my field of vision punk was percolating in New York City and London.
But because I was living in a small town near the coast of South Carolina, my exposure to anything other than what was on the local Top 40 AM station was pretty limited. Consider that the first time I heard the Beatles was around that time period when a friend hoped to cure me of my ABBA fandom with a copy of Revolver. Thankfully it worked.
Still, a few bits of excellence filtered through on the airwaves. And while I, at that age, could have already told you that Rod Stewart’s“Do You Think I’m Sexy?” was an abomination, I was able to pick out some gems that really stuck with me. Part of that is directly related to the fact that I was feeling the first pangs of late-grade school infatuation with members of the opposite sex.
So it should come as no surprise that a couple of standout songs from that period were “Is She Really Going Out With Him” by Joe Jackson and “Cruel to be Kind” by Nick Lowe. Both spoke volumes to what I felt was a cargo ship full of unrequited love I was going through at the time. Now, when I need to tap youthful heartbreak, it helps to cast my mind back to how those particular songs seemed to capture everything my much less cynical younger self felt.
Much like a Method actor, who uses real-life experience to tap into what emotions a character in a film or on stage might be feeling, as writers we are called to do the same things with our stories. Think about the songs during your life that have coincided with highly emotional events or have somehow captured the way you’ve felt about a person or situation and don’t be afraid to use them (and the feelings they recall) in creating genuine, rich and layered emotions for your characters.