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!

 

A to Z Challenge Reveal #AtoZChallenge

thmrevelLast year, I had a blast doing the A to Z blogging challenge. My theme last year was beer. I had a beer for every letter and wrote a short story around it.

This year my theme will be music. Each day I will feature a song beginning with the appropriate letter and write a little short story inspired by the song.

Music has always been a big driver of mine, and great songwriters are also great story tellers and great poets. I made this argument with my high school English teacher thirty years ago. She disagreed. Too bad she passed away before Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize in literature, huh? So I hope all of you participating have as much fun as I do.

Week 16 2016 -Headaches and Anticipation

QueryCatThis week saw me go O to T in the A-Z Blogging Challenge. Is that the end of the alphabet I see there? I hope so. I must admit this has taken away from time I might, perhaps,  have better spent editing, revising, proofing, and polishing my current project for submission. Ah well, publishing isn’t going anywhere and this has been terrific practice and enforced a bit more discipline on me. I had a migraine that stretched Wednesday – Friday and I still managed to keep up.

Here is the week that was:

Ommegang_2– MondayOlde Town Bar #atozchallenge . This story told of a young girl kidnapped from the UK twelve years prior and taken to America, assisted by mysterious forces, and finding her way back home. In anticipation of tonight’s premiere of season 6 of Game of Thrones, I featured Ommegang’s line of Game of Thrones inspired beers. These are actually very good. Ommegang is a brewery out of Cooperstown, New York.

PirateBombTuesdayPirate’s Pier #AtoZChallenge  – I revamped a story I wrote in high school which eventually resulted in my fantasy series The Idylls of Alleysiande. It featured an American Double/Imperial Stout with a hell of kick (14.00 ABV) called Pirate Bomb from Prairie Artisan Ales out of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

QueensLagerWednesdayQuery Pit – #AtoZChallenge – I was inspired by my time spent swimming in the Reef, an affectionate name for agent extraordinaire,  Janet Reid’s Award-Winning Blog which is frequented by writers, agents, readers, and editors of all walks of life. Regardless of what your career model is as a writer, traditional publishing, self-publishing, or hybrid, this is a literal treasure trove of knowledge that will only help you as a writer. For this tale, I featured Queen’s Lager out of Queens, New York in honor of QOTKU (The Queen of the Known Universe which is Janet’s official title and should be on her business card).

RedHare_WatershipThursdayRabbit’s Rebuke – #AtoZChallenge This little story was in many ways inspired by my daughter and my own struggles against societal norms. She is graduating from college in two weeks and does not wish to take the normal road. I believe she will be happier for it. A lot of my knowledge of beers comes from her. She is a bartender and loves it. She is also artistic and full of wanderlust. I hope she sees the world instead of hides from it as most seem to do. For this little story, I featured beers produced by Red Hare Brewing out of Marietta, Georgia.

StoneRuinationFridayStorm’s End Cafe #AtoZChallenge Finally, the week drew to a close and I challenged myself to take a broad cast of characters and bring them together. I really needed several more drafts, but it was a good exercise. I love stories that take seemingly unrelated lives and crash them into one another. I also left much in this tale up to the reader’s interpretation because I believe the best writing involves the reader bringing their own voice to the tale. I don’t know if I managed that, but it is something I strive for. The great stories do that. It’s why something like Harry Potter works so well because so many readers can bring their own experience to it and take something more out of it. I feature California’s Stone Brewing Co’s Ruination IPA as the beer in this story.

HatTrickHopSaturdayTower Peak #AtoZChallenge  A very short tale of an angel that falls quite unintentionally by trying to help. This rides along a theme that has long fascinated me ever since I encountered J.R.R. Tolkien and his Inklings. It shows up over and over again in literature through the ages. It is a constant struggle that so much evil done starts with a good intention. For this story, I featured Montana’s Tamarack Brewing company and their Hat Trick Hops IPA.

So now my watch is done for this week. Thanks for stopping by. For one more week we will travel to the end of the alphabet. For all of you participating in the A to Z challenge, good luck. See you on the other side of Z.