Good-bye #AtoZChallenge

GYes, there are tons of songs about Good-bye. This post is not about a song. However, if you want to put my departure to music, have at it. Maybe next year I will continue this theme, but this year, I must bid adieu to this challenge.

I really enjoyed this last year. This year, it’s stressing me out and hurting my progress on my WIP.  Life is rearing its ugly head; moving, downsizing, health,  family issues, death, and taxes are running up against a merciless hour glass so something had to give.  Maybe I’ll be able to rejoin next year. If I am still around…

I will resume normal blogging at some later date. For now, I will visit other blogs and such, but my contributions will fall outside April. Thanks for the support.

Full of Grace #AtoZChallenge

FI cannot, will not tell the story behind why this song shakes me so hard. It’s too personal.  I did think Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series made lovely use of the song and wished that the reality of letting go of someone you really love was so easy.

No one, not even my precious daughter knows the story behind this.  The song keeps my secret and holds my pain. Music does have that power. It’s better this way….

 

Edge of Seventeen #AtoZChallenge

EIn 1981, I was still looking at that bright edge of seventeen, aching to vanquish fifteen,  hoping for more freedom at sixteen, and thinking at seventeen, no one would treat me like a kid anymore.  So funny how your perception of time and age change over the years. This song seemed to ache and yearn in all the ways I did at the time.

Whenever I am dealing with an adolescent girl in story, this song helps recall all that passion, confusion, want, and curiosity.  I do know most adolescent girls are probably not the frightful terror I was back then when I knew it all. My daughter certainly seemed to traverse her adolescent years with far more aplomb than I managed. Different aches. Different yearnings.

Some few months before my daughter moved to New York, she and one of her good friends took me to see a Fleetwood Mac cover band.  My daughter loves the music of my youth more than I did when I was her age, and she and her friend listened to the stories these old songs conjured up from my past. The band closed with Edge of Seventeen, and I was amazed how a song can make something that happened long ago seem like it was only yesterday.

 

Dust Bowl Dance #AtoZChallenge

Eerie and angry, a cry in the dark, despair and resolve all caught in this song. I tend to love songs that tell stories.

DDust Bowl Dance by Mumford and Sons takes it one better suggesting so many tales that are far too common in this world.  It is a recent song compared to many of the others I am citing in this challenge. However, songs like this often help me develop the rougher and uglier parts of my characters, especially the protagonists. I like my heroes dirty and my villains clean.  This helps me understand how desperate a good man can become beyond my own experience. And that is what great art should do. Take you outside your own experience.

 

Dust Bowl Dance

Songwriters: Benjamin Walter David Lovett, Marcus Oliver Johnstone Mumford, Edward James Milton Dwane, Aubrey Aladar Marshall

The young man stands on the edge of his porch
The days were short and the father was gone
There was no one in the town and no one in the field
This dusty barren land had given all it could yield

I’ve been kicked off my land at the age of sixteen
And I have no idea where else my heart could have been
I placed all my trust at the foot of this hill
And now I am sure my heart can never be still
So collect your courage and collect your horse
And pray you never feel this same kind of remorse

Seal my heart and break my pride
I’ve nowhere to stand and now nowhere to hide
Align my heart, my body, my mind
To face what I’ve done and do my time

Well you are my accuser, now look in my face
Your oppression reeks of your greed and disgrace
So one man has and another has not
How can you love what it is you have got
When you took it all from the weak hands of the poor?
Liars and thieves you know not what is in store

There will come a time I will look in your eye
You will pray to the God that you always denied
Then I’ll go out back and I’ll get my gun
I’ll say, “You haven’t met me, I am the only son”

Seal my heart and break my pride
I’ve nowhere to stand and now nowhere to hide
Align my heart, my body, my mind
To face what I’ve done and do my time

Seal my heart and break my pride
I’ve nowhere to stand and now nowhere to hide
Align my heart, my body, my mind
To face what I’ve done and do my time

Well yes sir, yes sir, yes it was me
I know what I’ve done, ’cause I know what I’ve seen
I went out back and I got my gun
I said, “You haven’t met me, I am the only son”

 

 

 

Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy #AtoZChallenge

cfatbdc-fullNo other song (or album for that matter) has had as much of a profound influence on my life as Elton John’s Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy. I was not yet a decade on this earth when the album came out. My aunt knew I was a fan and working with a radio station at the time. She gave me the album to explore.  I remember my mother’s frustration at me the summer of the album’s release because all I did was listen to the album over and over again. I learned the name Bernie Taupin. He was the lyricist. He had written the words that infested my dreams.  Over forty years later, Bernie Taupin and Elton John are still spinning tunes and rhymes together. I wonder if there has ever been such a prolific songwriting team.

CI already loved Elton John by the summer of 1975 because an older cousin introduced me to him when I was six. Rocket Man and Yellow Brick Road filled so many dreams and inspired so many of the tales I wrote in notebooks, on sketch pads, in diaries and at my dad’s typewriter at night.

I read that Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, as an album, was meant to be semi-autobiographical. It detailed the early music careers of Elton John and Bernie Taupin. I learned all I could about them at the time, and this way before the internet.  It seemed fate to me that a small advert in a magazine brought the duo together. Their music then held sway over so many lives. How could such a thing be?

It was one of those tales I took as proof that words and music can change the world. It was the spark that ignited the creation of Aerda and its lost land of Alleysiande.  Really, one line from the title track brought into existence two characters that have lived inside me since before my tenth birthday, a pirate captain and a pretend prince joined together by happenstance. How different than what the songwriters meant, but is that not the power of good writing in whatever form it takes? Are there not songs, poems, films, or other works of art that have influenced you in ways the artist could not imagine?

And all this talk of Jesus coming back to see us
Couldn’t fool us
For we were spinning out our lines walking on the wire
Hand in hand went music and the rhyme
The Captain and the Kid stepping in the ring
From here on sonny sonny sonny, it’s a long and lonely climb

 

 

Bat Out of Hell #AtoZChallenge

BOh my Holy God, I love this song so much. From the first time I heard it all trapped in my pre-adolescent shell of a body, the lyrics, the vocals, the keys, the strings, the drums, a cacophony of delight ah…the symphonic ecstasy of music.  And the imagery, sweet child of Music, a picture painted in a deluge of sound and brightly colored notes penetrating every spore of my being. I felt myself an angel escaping Hell on a roaring bike to force my way into Heaven.

 

Being ever so passionate and given to the dramatic ever since mortal flesh imprisoned me, I felt an angel born in Hell who could just make out the borders of paradise, forever out of reach. It was always that idea that fed my fantasy, that fallen one, a demon now but an angel in another time and place caught in Hell, forever separated from the light of Creation, guarding the gates of the dead and damned. A glance of something wondrous and a rebellion in Hell begins and then like a bat out of hell….oh how I wish I could make these words my own.

 

“Bat Out Of Hell”

Meatloaf, Lyrics Jim Steinman, Music by Todd Rundgren, 1977

The sirens are screaming and the fires are howling Way down in the valley tonight. There’s a man in the shadows with a gun in his eye And a blade shining, oh, so bright. There’s evil in the air and there’s thunder in sky, And a killer’s on the bloodshot streets. Oh, and down in the tunnel where the deadly are rising, Oh, I swear I saw a young boy down in the gutter, He was starting to foam in the heat.

Oh, baby, you’re the only thing in this whole world, That’s pure and good and right. And wherever you are and wherever you go, There’s always gonna be some light. But I gotta get out, I gotta break it out now, Before the final crack of dawn. So we gotta make the most of our one night together. When it’s over you know, We’ll both be so alone.

Like a bat out of hell I’ll be gone when the morning comes. When the night is over Like a bat out of hell I’ll be gone-gone-gone. Like a bat out of hell I’ll be gone when the morning comes. But when the day is done, and the sun goes down, And the moonlight’s shining through, Then like a sinner before the gates of heaven, I’ll come crawling on back to you.

I’m gonna hit the highway like a battering ram On a silver black phantom bike. When the metal is hot and the engine is hungry, And we’re all about to see the light. Nothing ever grows in this rotting old hole. And everything is stunted and lost. And nothing really rocks And nothing really rolls And nothing’s ever worth the cost.

And I know that I’m damned if I never get out, And maybe I’m damned if I do, But with every other beat I’ve got left in my heart, You know I’d rather be damned with you. Well, if I gotta be damned you know I wanna be damned Dancing through the night with you. Well, if I gotta be damned you know I wanna be damned— Gotta be damned, you know I wanna be damned— Gotta be damned, you know I wanna be damned Dancing through the night— Dancing through the night— Dancing through the night with you.

Oh, baby, you’re the only thing in this whole world, That’s pure and good and right. And wherever you are and wherever you go, There’s always gonna be some light. But I gotta get out, I gotta break it out now, Before the final crack of dawn. So we gotta make the most of our one night together. When it’s over you know We’ll both be so alone.

Like a bat out of hell I’ll be gone when the morning comes. When the night is over Like a bat out of hell I’ll be gone gone gone. Like a bat out of hell I’ll be gone when the morning comes. But when the day is done and the sun goes down, And the moonlight’s shining through, Then like a sinner before the gates of heaven, I’ll come crawling on back to you. Then like a sinner before the gates of heaven, I’ll come crawling on back to you.

I can see myself tearing up the road Faster than any other boy has ever gone. And my skin is raw but my soul is ripe. No one’s gonna stop me now, I’m gonna make my escape. But I can’t stop thinking of you, And I never see the sudden curve until it’s way too late. And I never see the sudden curve ’til it’s way too late.

Then I’m dying at the bottom of a pit in the blazing sun. Torn and twisted at the foot of a burning bike. And I think somebody somewhere must be tolling a bell. And the last thing I see is my heart Still beating, Breaking out of my body and flying away, Like a bat out of hell. Then I’m dying at the bottom of a pit in the blazing sun. Torn and twisted at the foot of a burning bike.

And I think somebody somewhere must be tolling a bell. And the last thing I see is my heart Still beating, still beating, Breaking out of my body and flying away, Like a bat out of hell. Like a bat out of hell. Like a bat out of hell. Oh, like a bat out of hell! Like a bat out of hell! Like a bat out of hell!

 

Atlantic City #AtoZChallenge

DISCLAIMER: In this A to Z Challenge, some of the stories are true. All are fiction.

AWell, they blew up the chicken man in Philly last night And they blew up his house, too. Down on the boardwalk they’re ready for a fight Gonna see what them racket boys can do. Now there’s trouble busin’ in from outta state And the d.a. can’t get no relief.Gonna be a rumble on the promenade And the gamblin’ commissioner’s hangin’ on by the skin of his teeth.

– Bruce Springsteen, 1982

I love songs written in minor keys with great lyrics the way I do a well-written book or poem. There are precious few great song writers. The first moment I heard Bruce Springsteen sing “Atlantic City” , I knew I had discovered another to join the ranks of my favorite song spinners.

I saw a story explode inside my imagination the first time I heard this song. I have no idea who this “chicken man” was or what he did to have his house blown up. It didn’t matter. Masterful words executed to minor chords illustrated a world I had never seen before, and made it real to me. I felt that invisible line of winners and losers, and that fear that I would forever be caught on the wrong side of that line. This was a song I could use to stir soul into the characters I would later create in my own writing.

 

 

A was a plentiful letter for this particular theme. I choose Atlantic City because of that dark underbelly of society that it so well highlights. All those compromises so many are forced to make in order to simply survive.

Now I’ve been looking for a job but it’s hard to find
Down here it’s just winners and losers and don’t get caught on the wrong side of that line
Well I’m tired of coming out on this losing end
So honey last night I met this guy and I’m gonna do a little favor for him

While the specific story of the song did not much come into play, the mood it conveyed and the above verse inspired the character of Quinn Mandoras in my upcoming book, Idylls & Grimoires. Here is a little snippet, probably the only one I will offer prior to contract signed in blood and splattered about the publisher so enjoy it. Or not.

DISCLAIMER:  This is an early edit so yeah, it won’t be the same when you fish this off the discount rack in Walmart a few years from now.

9-Hallows-1182

Day 19 of the Cleansing Rain

Outside the Gates, Pig’s Spit

1 Hour Later

Plagues were nothing new in Pig’s Spit. Quinn Mandoras much preferred the endless days of rain to the boils and blood sickness of last summer or the frogs the year before that or those swarming flesh-eating locusts ten years back. Quinn shuddered at the memory. He crept back toward the road, being cautious as to not attract any attention as he watched guards escort the strange archivist up toward Phaedra’s Spire.

Quinn supposed that was the last he would see of Husk Grayvesone. He sighed at the man’s ill-fortune. He checked to see the book and card were secure in his jacket. He considered for a moment selling the card in King Springs, a right fortune he could get for it. So many thought these cards magical. Quinn did not believe in the cards and he did not believe this book tucked in his jacket was an Idyll. Still, Liam could have a full deck, a worthy deck that might get him out of Pig’s Spit.

Old Sawyers Tuch claimed Dalmeade Archivists to be supreme tricksters much like the Bone Masters who appeared in unlikely spots with their unpleasant prophecies, a spot of misfortune mixed with a few drops of blood for a card that might bring riches. Sawyers Tuch understood nothing.

Quinn wondered if the archivist truly knew his older brother? Cyril had made a trade once with a Bone Master, blood for a card. Screams echoed from years past and for a second, Quinn considered throwing both book and card in the mud. There would be a price for this. Still, his family near starved for the taxes and extortion Quinn suffered. There would be no honest living for him. Husk only wanted Quinn to go to a place he already must go. That seemed worth it, worth being able to improve his family’s lot.

Idylls & Grimoires was a splendid game to be sure. Quinn’s son would be thrilled by the new card, and if Quinn could get this strange book to the tavern, his son would enjoy a tournament worthy deck. That would make the errand worth it.

Liam was a clever boy. With the right deck, played at the right place, who knows how Liam might improve his fortunes? Quinn missed his son’s smile, and this might bring it back. The boy had been so melancholy this last year, ever since those damn boils left his son’s face disfigured.

Quinn shuffled his way into the crowds fleeing Pig’s Spit, blending in with their misery, keeping his head down. He wondered if he could find some little prize for his daughter. Cyd never required anything more than a good story and a kiss on her little forehead to make her smile, but she was so little, her innocence still well intact.

Quinn decided as a prize for his precious daughter, he would spend time at her bedside tonight and tell her the tale of The Toad and the Cowardly Knight. Cyd loved that tale and the way he did the different voices for her, croaking like a toad, speaking like a princess, putting on the accent of a well-born knight. How it made her giggle, and that was one of his favorite sounds in all of the world.

Quinn found himself up to his ankles in gathering pools of water and mud at the point where the little road converged into two paths, one spiraling in shining cobblestone toward the Royal Gateway into King’s Spring proper, and the other an unpaved path too steep and narrow for wagons or horses. Quinn began his climb toward hearth and home. How he cursed this steep incline so often after a long day’s work, but today, perhaps it would spare his family if the rain persisted and the flood waters continued to rise. Thunder rolled and boomed, and Quinn thought, yes, one of those hundred year floods was coming, and so he climbed.