#Reverb11 Day 27: Author! Author! What are you going to write?

Prompt: Author! Author! – Share with us the title and inside jacket cover of the book you’d most like to write.

Oy. All the good ones, I’m keeping. I’m far too paranoid a writer to give it ALL away.

But this one I’ll share:

Ordinary In Her Own World.

Intrigued? As far as the blurb goes, this would either be a sci fi/fantasy novel or straight-up young adult fiction. I used to think I knew which one it would be, but now I’m not so sure.

The appeal of sci-fi is the possibilities, the should-haves instead of the what-we-haves, and fantasy has the same draw. Sinking into a colorful yet comfortable sci-fi/fantasy book, brimming with situations, is manna from heaven for me.  Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series is one such. Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle’s The Mote in God’s Eye is another. I see my title as giving me more than a glimmer of magic and possibilities.

The appeal of young adult fiction is I would always run out of books to read when growing up and would find myself searching for something, anything, to fill in gaps in my knowledge that experience had yet to cover. I’d like to fill in those gaps for others. My title smacks of finding acceptance in the years when acceptance is so hard to find–including from yourself, which can be hardest of all. On the flip side, who doesn’t want to feel just a little bit special?

In any case, I tend to judge my books by the first line and page. If that grips me, then I’ll read the rest. No dust jacket today!

Yes, I have this shirt. From feistees.com.

#Reverb11 Day 26: Music is powerful

Prompt: Music is powerful – Think of one song that you turn to time and again, and describe why it’s important to you.

The trouble with a prompt like this is there can never be just one.

It’s the desert island question again. With music, so much depends on my mood, the circumstances, the ambience, everything. And despite my last post, at first I couldn’t settle on anything at all. Some songs I’ve heard through the years, some only came recently, some came back to me at exactly the right moment. Each one is essential.

I can at least say that when I’m feeling sad, it seems that nothing but rhythm’n’blues will do. Among all the musical styles I grew up with, the rhythm’n’blues and doo wop of the 40s and 50s has the strongest hold on my heart. That deserves its own post so I’m not going into it here because believe me, I’d fill this page up.

So I’ll give this prompt a different kind of shot–a wide shot–and tell you just a few of the many, many nuggets that are in my world.

Songs that make me stop everything and turn up the volume:

White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane. I don’t even know why this song grips me the way it does, but it always has.

All Along the Watchtower – Jimi Hendrix. “There are many here among us / Who feel that life is but a joke.” I know people who are like this. I’ve felt it myself. (For me, this song also echoes this G.K. Chesterton poem with the line “There are souls more sick of pleasure than you are sick of pain.”)

Solsbury Hill – Peter Gabriel. This song came at just the right time for me and hit me square between the eyes. It gave me strength, clarity and courage when I needed it the most.

Bolero – Ravel. The recording I like best is with Charles Munch & the Boston Symphony, but this one directed by Andre Rieu is quite good (and much shorter, for those of you in a hurry). From the tiptoeing quiet of the opening bars to the crescendoing finale, I absolutely love this piece of music.

Songs I can’t look away from:

Sixteen Blue – Replacements
. Think of yourself as you were around age 16, if you can bear it. Or just listen to the feedback-drenched guitar that comes in at 3:35,  wanders off into its own little stream of thought and then comes back to pierce you right in the heart. Transcendent.

Autumn Sweater – Yo La Tengo
. The part that hits at 1:20 transfixes me in the kind of moment that lasts forever because in that moment, that’s all there is.

Pipeline – Stevie Ray Vaughan & Dick Dale
. I can only describe the sound that starts at 1:10 as “zinging” off the guitar, and it comes back after that, oh yes it does. Though I gave away my guitar, I remain a guitar-worshipper.

Songs I never fail to sing wherever I am:

Cloudbusting – Kate Bush
. “Oooh, I just know that something good is going to happen / I don’t know when, but just saying it could even make it happen…” I can’t listen to this song without crying just a little, even as I’m singing my heart out to it. This is a picture-song even if you never saw the video, and the heartbreak of it gets me every single time.

Your Love – Outfield. It’s the opening guitar chords, it’s the high male voice, it’s the unabashed honesty, it’s the 80s.

Joey – Concrete Blonde. The first time I heard this song was when I saw the video. I was completely overcome. Johnette’s heart-throbbing voice, her presence, the way you can just see her eyes under her bangs as she stands there and sings–it goes right through you. And I’ve known a couple Joeys.

Caroline – Concrete Blonde. Incredible song, wistful, angst-ridden. I know Carolines, too.

Gypsy – Fleetwood Mac. This song is perhaps the closest I’ll ever come to “that song,” the one I could play over and over and never tire of it. I identified with it so strongly growing up. Over the years it’s become so much a part of me that I don’t listen to it as much as I used to.

Alas, I’m falling into the error I knew I would–loading you up with too many songs! I know I’ll think of others I should have included, or want to scrap this post and load you up with obscure rhythm’n’blues songs instead that probably aren’t even on YouTube.

Wait, this one is: Nobody But You – Dee Clark. I think you’ll like it. Listen to the end–that’s his falsetto!

I’ll leave you with this:

Billie Holiday’s last recording session
. There’s something about a ruined voice that grips me and always will. Think Bonnie Tyler and how much power she put into “It’s a Heartache.”

My dad has this album so I hope I’m remembering the circumstances correctly: Billie’s last recordings were in a studio with an orchestra backing her. Her voice is a fractured ruin, cracked, sliding off the scales. You’ll see in the picture she’s got a glass in her hand, and I bet that’s not water.

Yet there’s a moment where Billie is singing and the orchestra stops playing–and she doesn’t notice it at all, just keeps on singing, and it’s the most incredible thing, because all of her life is in that cracked and ruined voice–and that makes it beautiful.


#Reverb11 Day 25: The reason for the season

Prompt: The reason for the season – What’s the most memorable gift you’ve ever received?

Hey, I don’t make these prompts up. I also don’t have “the ultimate gift, ever” because that’s a little too close to the desert island type-question, which always pisses me off.

But picking just ONE of my most memorable gifts, outside of the  shimmering, mystical moonstone engagement necklace (I don’t wear rings) Mr. HouseofBeck surprised me with right before Christmas in 2003…

…I’d have to say my iPod.

Music is life to me. Thanks to my dad, I grew up listening to everything. Beethoven, rhythm’n’blues, big band and punk fill my earliest memories. I think I heard the Dickies’ cover of “Paranoid” at age 4 before I ever heard Black Sabbath’s, and when I did I thought that was too slow! I was country before country was cool, I was 80s, I was Nights in White Satin, I was Pete Seeger, I was Elmore James, I was Jeanette MacDonald and Lily Pons. Fill in eras and genres in between and you’ll get the picture.

I used to wonder how people could think a sound was new or original when all you have to do is look back a couple decades and it was already happening, often before its time. The roots go so, so deep, and there’s so much out there. And I eat it up like candy.

So when I first opened up the box and saw the friendly little face of my 30GB video Pod, I was overcome. I could carry my music with me.

I grew up with 45s, vinyl, tapes and then CDs. A friend had cylinder records and I still have 78s. Nothing has ever sounded as good as the 45 rpm, outside of being in the studio with the group or seeing them live. But I’ll accept the slight loss in quality for the beautiful ease of carrying a piece of my collection with me with no jumble of tapes or CDs, of being able to experience the beauty and the bliss right at my fingertips, right at my whim.

I don’t have my entire collection on the Pod itself; I’d need a bigger one, and while I’m hard on my stuff, this little dude has lasted since 2005 and I get attached to electronics. But I can load exactly what I need when I need to hear it. I may have issues with iTunes and probably always will, but the concept works for me nonetheless.

I haven’t heard everything, of course; I’ve managed to miss bands and even genres through the years. But I’ve got great friends who are filling in those gaps, and both me’n’the Pod benefit. There’s something about falling into a music discussion that can completely infuse you with excitement and emotion, that heady rush of hearing something new that captivates you and sends you soaring because so often it comes at exactly the right time.

Even just sending a link online, even just having the other person type “goosebumps” at you exactly when you’re feeling them, does it for me. You may have missed it 20 years ago, but now, today, it pierces you to the core.

With friends like that, with music like that, every day is a priceless gift. And I can carry it all with me.

30GB iPod found here.
Musical note found here.