Today’s post might look like a lazy man’s blog, because I’m copying and pasting lyrics into it from other sources. But the fact is, lyrics have always played an important role not only in my life, but also in my novels.
I never gave this much thought until recently, quite frankly. I’ve got a new novel coming out next month—as you can see from the cover reveal image rollout above—so I’ve got to get some blog posts done in advance. Or at least have some blog topics planned ahead. In my planning process, I put together a little list of things I’m good at, and character is one. I covered that last week, and dialogue the week before. The use of lyrics, my third item on the list, comes this week.
The Brothers’ Hand Lyrics
I’m something of a rock and roll writer, I think. I’ve said as much, even in interviews. But I also listen to a lot of jazz, and that’s informed some of my work as well. From a rhythmic standpoint, I feel like Brothers’ Hand is a rock novel, while Jana is much more jazz. Miles of Files seems to combine the two to some degree. And the upcoming release, Whizzers, has almost an ambient feel to it, in my mind.
In my reflections on this, I realized that I’d been writing lyrics for ten years longer than I’d been writing novels. I started writing poems and songs in 7th or 8th grade, and filled notebooks with them. But I didn’t sit down and determine that I’d actually put some of those lyrics into most of my novels until it was almost time to write this post.
Brothers’ Hand, a novel informed by the rhythms of rock, features a few of these lyrics. The difference between these lyrics and those in my other books is that some of the Brothers’ Hand lyrics were created especially for the book. Here’s one example:
So I tied off, baby,
Wouldn’t ya like to try it too?
‘Cause there’s a whole lotta flashin’
When the brown horse is crashin’
Through your brain like a Subaru.
However, there are other lyrics in that novel that came from songs I wrote earlier, like these:
That’s the place that’s better,
Where I can just forget her
And let the wound heal.
Promises as empty as the tear that never dries,
Promises as empty as the cloudless summer skies.
Lyrics In Jana
Because Jana comes from a woman’s POV, I didn’t try to put much of my own art into the book. It was challenging enough to just write the thing. But there is one scene with Jana and her partner, Danielle, where Danielle sings in front of some people at a coffeehouse, and the lyrics come from a song I’d already written. I didn’t change the title, Pop Song, but I created a fake band name, Swinging Porters. Hope no one’s used that one yet.
He was tired of taking chances
And she was looking for romances
They were waiting for advances
But the chemistry wasn’t right.
So they sat like statuettes and
Studied both their silhouettes and
Felt like they were marionettes and
Probably they were right ….
I took a bit of a break from lyrics in Miles of Files, although there’s plenty of discussion of music—from Paul’s nightmare gig at the Elks’ Club to Pamela’s longing look back at the folk scene in Northampton. But I was hard-pressed to find a lyric beyond Paul’s sardonic quote of Edelweiss.
And Then Came Whizzers
So it was something of a surprise to me when I realized that I’d dipped back into those lyrics of mine for Whizzers, a novel recently completed and ready for release. This is the first time I’ve put these out into any public forum. Of course, my Launch Group will get much more in terms of sneak peeks than this. But for those of you interested in the upcoming book, here we go:
Fat old Charlie with his two-ton Harley was politically incorrect
And black-eyed Phil with his powders and pills was chemically suspect
And poor little Jeanie with her big blue meanies was really quite a wreck
They had one thing in common, they were trying to ease the load
And they were riding down that suicidal road.
And there you have it. Two sneak peeks from Whizzers, coming July 21st: the cover above and a bit of lyrical chicanery. Happy Monday!