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 monthas you can see from the cover reveal image rollout aboveso 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.

 

And:

 

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 musicfrom 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!

radio shows

Radio, Radio

Normally, when I've done radio shows, it's been related to promotion of a novel, or of my novels in general. This week, it's something completely different. (If you got the Monty Python reference, kudos. If not, Google them after you read this post. Then thank me in...

Miles of Files: Where Did It Come From?

I wrote my third novel between about 2007 and 2015. I can’t say it took a full eight years to write – I got stuck in the final third for a couple years – but it was an ambitious project. I’d gone from a third person novel to a first person novel, and now I was going...

Lovers In A Dangerous Time

This past weekend, I did what a lot of us are doing nowadays—frittered some time away on Facebook. I'm doing one of those "post the cover of an album you love" every day for a week or whatever, and Sunday's pick was Bruce Cockburn's Stealing Fire, which featured the...

But I’m Too Busy to Blog!

If you're like me, you're a committed writer: maybe you keep to a rigorous writing schedule, or maybe you have actually written a full-length book or books. Chances are good that if you're reading this, you're also a blogger. Maybe you even have a blog like this one....
speaking

On the Road: The Speaker’s Life

A few months ago, I wrote a post about annoying current expressions like having said that and at the end of the day. That post came up in conversation this past weekend on a long, long trek to Miami and back. You see, when you spend nine or ten hours in a car with...

Short Story Contest Part III

Happy Labor Day, everybody! To celebrate, I’m posting part III of a short story I’m including in an upcoming collection. If you haven’t already played along, check out parts I & II from the last two weeks. The person who sends in the most helpful suggestion or...

Short Story Contest

As we head into September, I'm struck by how quickly this year has flown by. I have a radio interview in two days and a book fair next month, and I'm sure there will be much more happening as I go full bore with marketing campaigns for Miles of Files, Jana, and...
creativity

Can Creativity Be Taught?

Have you ever thought about writing a book? Have you written a book? If the answer to the first question is Yes, but the answer to the second question is No, there might be a few reasons for this. One reason I frequently hear from potential ghostwriting clients is,...

Cover Reveal: Rides From Strangers

Rides From Strangers is coming! Today’s post is a reminder about the upcoming publication of my new short story collection, which is indeed called Rides From Strangers, after the first story in the book. For those of you already on my email newsletter list, I will be...
patchworks

Patchworks: A Book Review

Today I woke to the all-too-familiar tragic news of yet another mass shooting. Sadly, we all know what will happen next: politicians will sputter, talking heads will bloviate, and the next thing that gets done about gun control will be – absolutely nothing. Such is...