Post-script Note: I get a little daydreamy when I listen to music, and I wrote this last night in a music trance. Forgive me if it comes off a bit spacey…
The well has been a bit dry the last few weeks. I’m reading a very long book, and haven’t finished anything that I’m particularly enthusiastic to write about. I haven’t had much to say here on the blog, but I’ve been desperately wanting to write. Blaming it on a lack of time, I decided yesterday morning that I would devote this weekend to filling up the well, using some strategies learned during my quest to be a “writer” (will I ever have a good idea for a novel?).
So, when I got home from work yesterday, I sat down on the couch, pen in hand, waiting for ideas to spring forth from my head like my least-favorite goddess sprung forth from Zeus’ noggin. Didn’t happen. After an hour or so of brainstorming and internet-reading, I decided to step away. Try a different approach.
Now, before I stepped away from the internet, I was pondering music and playlists, thanks to an ongoing conversation with SJ from Snobbery on good music. SJ has some playlists to share with me, per my request, and I decided to hit up one of my old playlists for inspiration. This is how I used to always spur on writing in college. When I had to come up with a short story by noon the next day for my Creative Writing class, I would simply turn to music as my muse. Lately, I’ve been in a dry spell with music, so I haven’t really listened to much of anything but books on tape.
I know they’ve been praised many times before~ Hornby’s High Fidelity was all about them~ but mixed tapes (predecessors to the playlist) have power. Mixed tapes tell a story. The playlist I picked yesterday was from the few on my rarely listened-to iPod. It was simply titled May. May when? Last year? Two years ago? I do this a lot with my playlists–name them after the month in which they were created.
14. “Tender” — Blur
Before I started blogging, you could say that making mixed tapes and playlists was my chosen form of writing. Writing via song choice and order, based upon my mood for the time period.
I’ve got loads of burned cds from the past ten years. Many playlists saved on my iTunes library. And nearly all of the mixed tapes from the ’90s, of which there are a lot!
Much like Shakespeare’s play within a play, mixed tapes have stories within stories. The list itself tells a story about where I was, what I was thinking about at the time I created it. Each song has its own history embedded within it. Then, of course, there are the stories that the songs tell themselves.
Looking at May, I think I was in a rather lovey-dovey mood. I think I was also very nostalgic. Every song placed on this playlist has some back story associated with it, and I can remember a certain key moment with each.
For example, “Reap the Wild Wind” reminds me of being 18, driving home from the city with my best friend Julia, back to the ‘burbs, after our first night on the town as legal adults. I had snagged one of my Dad’s compilation cds, and this song was on it. The sun was rising, and we raced down the empty freeway in her Ford Escort. The song encapsulated our youthful energy and excitement at exploring the world as women–free from curfew, free from the stifling microcosm that is high school. I still feel that excitement when I hear this song.
Meanwhile, another road song is “Milk”. I had just bought the new album by The Kings of Leon, had never listened to it, and brought it along for an all-night haul to Sacramento from San Diego. I was bringing Jesse, my new boyfriend, home to meet my parents for the first time. The moon was full and shining over the hills bordering the 5 freeway, somewhere around Fresno. “Milk” came on, and the moment was perfect.
Listening to my old playlists is like flipping through a photo album. Moments locked away for all time in song.
Listening to May didn’t exactly give me a bunch of blogging ideas, but it did make me think about stories. My stories. Which, while this is a blog mainly about books, it’s also about me, and my stories–the stories created while reading others’ stories and the stories created while living my life. So, in that sense, it was a pure spring.
I did, however, get an idea for a character sketch of Denna (a character from Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear) as well as inspiration for posts on the literary qualities of certain songs.
So, I’m not sure if my well is completely filled, but I’m glad I rediscovered these songs, these moments, these stories.
I’m a big fan of early punk and new wave. I’m also a huge fan of classic literature. Here are ten punkish (my husband is forcing this disclaimer: I KNOW these don’t all fall in the “punk” category, but they are in the same vein) theme songs that remind me of some of my favorite literary works.
1. The Catcher in the Rye–“Walk on the Wild Side” by Lou Reed
This was an easy one. Holden’s adventures in New York City connect evenly with Lou Reed’s.
2. Hamlet–“Digital” by Joy Division
Oh Hamlet…so paranoid.
“I feel it closing in, I feel it closing in, day in, day out, day in, day out…”
3. Wuthering Heights–“Mother” by Danzig
Heathcliff. Mothers. Fathers. Lock your daughters up and away from the diabolical Heathcliff.
“Father. Gonna take your daughter out tonight. Gonna show her my world. Oh father.”
Heh, heh…Glen Danzig even kinda looks like Heathcliff.
4. Romeo and Juliet–“What Do I Get” by the Buzzcocks
If they hadn’t died tragically, I think Romeo would have tired of Juliet eventually. He just wanted a girlfriend–he was in love with love. I think Friar Lawrence told him that. But, before Juliet, he was unlucky in love. This is Romeo’s pre-Juliet theme song.
“I just want a lover like any other, what do I get? […] I only get sleepless nights, alone here in my half-empty bed,”
5. The Age of Innocence–“Pale Blue Eyes” by The Velvet Underground
The sad affair of Newland Archer and Countess Olenska:
It was good what we did yesterday.
And I’d do it once again.
The fact that you are married,
Only proves, you’re my best friend.
But it’s truly, truly a sin.
Linger on, your pale blue eyes.
6. The Portrait of a Lady–“Reptile” by The Church and “Gut Feeling” by Devo
Gilbert Osmond is truly an evil snake, and Isabel Archer doesn’t realize it until she is trapped into marriage with him! These two songs encapsulate what I think that must feel like.
Too dangerous to keep.
Too feeble to let go.
And you want to bite the hand.
Should have stopped this long ago.
I looked for sniffy linings
but you’re rotten to the core
I’ve had just about all I can take
you know I can’t take it no more
Got a gut feeling
7. Bleak House–“I Love Livin’ in the City” by Fear and “That’s Entertainment” by The Jam and “Boredom” by The Buzzcocks
The nastiness that is London is perfectly set to music in the gritty “I Love Livin’ in the City” and the bitter “That’s Entertainment”. Dickens would’ve approved.
Bodies wasted in the street,
People dyin’ on the street,
But the suburban scumbags, they don’t care,
Just get fat and dye their hair!
A smash of glass and the rumble of boots –
An electric train and a ripped up ‘phone booth –
Paint splattered walls and the cry of a tomcat –
Lights going out and a kick in the balls –
And for Lady Dedlock, “Boredom” by The Buzzcocks. Certainly her theme song!
8. Sense and Sensibility–“Ever Fallen in Love” by The Buzzcocks
Another Buzzcocks tune, this time for Marianne Dashwood and Willoughby. Theirs was an unfortunate love affair. The fast pace of this tune reminds me of their mad dash love affair.
I can’t see much of a future
Unless we find out what’s to blame
What a shame
And we won’t be together much longer
Unless we realize that we are the same
Ever fallen in love with someone?
Ever fallen in love? […]
You shouldn’t’ve fallen in love with
9. Washington Square–“Shakespeare’s Sister” by The Smiths
I admit that I haven’t read this book yet, but I saw the movie, and this song, particularly a certain part, reminds me of the young heiress trying to get past her father so that she might run away with her fortune-hunter(?) suitor.
But I’m going to meet the one I love
So please don’t stand in my way
Because I’m going to meet the one I love
No, Mamma, let me go !
10. The Portable Dorothy Parker–“Love Like Anthrax” by Gang of Four
I’m pretty sure that Dorothy Parker would have been into punk rock had she been alive. Surely, she would have approved of the lyrics in this song, which takes the same sardonic view of love:
“Love’ll get you like a case of anthrax
And that’s something I don’t want to catch.”
Here is the second of four book giveaways going on this week at Adventures in Borkdom.
I am offering a paperback, only once-read, never written-in copy of A Visit from the Goon Squad! People, this is a Pulitzer-winner, and I loved it!
Here’s Goodreads’ synopsis of the book:
NATIONAL BESTSELLER National Book Critics Circle Award Winner PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist A New York Times Book Review Best Book
One of the Best Books of the Year:Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, The Daily Beast, The Miami Herald, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Newsday, NPR’s On Point, O, the Oprah Magazine, People, Publishers Weekly, Salon, San Francisco Chronicle, Seattle Times, Slate, Time, The Washington Post, and Village Voice
Bennie is an aging former punk rocker and record executive. Sasha is the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Here Jennifer Egan brilliantly reveals their pasts, along with the inner lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs. With music pulsing on every page, A Visit from the Goon Squad is a startling, exhilarating novel of self-destruction and redemption.
And here is my review: BOOK REVIEW: A Visit from the Goon Squad
To enter this contest, simply fill out the form below with your name and contact info. This contest will run for a week, the winner will be selected at random (using a random generator) and I will announce the winner and mail the book out the following week! Please enter, as I am ready to share!
This giveaway has ended.
So, I’m not sure why, but I’ve been in a funk all week. Apathy. Didn’t want to do anything. Came home from work on Monday, no motivation. Watched Reality TV (I never watch Reality TV…I prefer stories). Watched Smash (not impressed, but it didn’t take any brains, so it served its purpose). Tuesday–same thing, except I read I Want My MTV and watched 80s videos on YouTube while I read about the making of the videos (wow, I forgot how much I love the videos for Gypsy and Hold Me from Fleetwood Mac. And Total Eclipse of the Heart was a really weird video!). Wednesday, see Tuesday. Thursday– I spiced it up after a pep-talk from the wonderful GreenGeekGirl from Insatiable Booksluts and a poetry recommendation from the poetry buff Amy at Lucy’s Football. I read 20 Dorothy Parker poems THAT I LOVED, as recommended for my mood from Amy. Thanks girls for your advice and support!
I’m sorry—I have to interrupt myself with one of my favorite 80s videos—the boys from Journey talk so much shit about this video in my book, but I have always loved Steve Perry in it. He was my FIRST crush. My parents joke about how I would stare at the tv back in ’82/’83 when this video came on–
I’m totally rocking out as this is playing in the background. I’m typing as if I’m playing the keyboard. Have you ever done this? Try it with The Eurythmics…that totally helped me get through late night typing sessions in college. My typing speed went WAYYYY UP. Man, I am loving this. I Want My MTV is helping me find my love for music again. You might see more music talk on here now as I rediscover my love for Joe Jackson, The Cure, The Smiths, and whatnot. At one time I was known as a music geek and not a book geek. Random fact for you. Totally free. I think Amy is rubbing off on my writing style. Off on a tangent…
Now, it’s Friday and I feel a million times better! It might have to do with the fact that my students proved that all of my hard work this week paid off–they nailed their persuasive essays today (they wrote 5 paragraphs in 60 minutes). These are all ESL and Special Ed. kids who have never written more than a book report in their life, and today they totally wrote thesis statements, topic sentences, transition words, addressed counterarguments, and explained their reasons. I am so proud!!!
Also, it’s the weekend, and while I have a ton of grading to do, it now doesn’t seem so daunting. Sure, I haven’t gone to the gym all week, and my house is a mess, but it’s all gravy baby! Everything will work out…it always does.
Anyways, I know we’ve all been there, and I’m just glad it’s over.
On the positive side, I did read! Since my last post, I finished The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King, and volume one of Locke and Key by Joe Hill. Also, I’m about a third of the way through I Want My MTV by Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum and half-way through Mrs. Warren’s Profession by George Bernard Shaw. So, at least I’m reading!
I should have a review of The Drawing of the Three in the next few days, and a review of Locke and Key subsequently. So, I’m getting back into the groove.
I really want to give away books too, I just need to announce it. Perhaps, I’ll officially announce it tomorrow. Well, let’s just say that I have a bunch of books to give away–Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and A Visit from the Goon Squad among them–and I will announce that shortly. I’ll do a raffle for a week or so.
Well, it’s good to be back! I’ve missed you all, and will be more active in the upcoming week!