So wrote William Congreve in 1697, and it’s still true today. Of course, not everyone today understands that “hath” meant “has,” or that a “savage breast” was another way of saying “wild heart.” And these days, more music is made to stimulate than to calm.

My own relationship to music is lifelong and deeply personal. I can recall, with some degree of clarity, everything from the enlivening effect of pop songs first heard at eight or nine to the uplifting hymns of my days in church as a youth. Whatever the source, the music I’ve loved has moved me, while music I dislike has brought on feelings equally intense.

I believe music, poetry and song are all intrinsically connectednot only for listeners but also for its creators. By the age of thirteen, I’d already begun writing songs and poems, and the melodies of lyrics I wrote came to me just as vividly as the words. A boy without a band, I was as likely to write a song as a poem on any given day…and there were periods where I wrote one or the other daily.

 

Is It Live Or Is It Memory?

When I hit junior high, my older brother was already in high school. It was only natural that we would want to go to rock shows, and our parents actually dropped us off at my first one, a Kiss concert in 1978. In retrospect, the sound was awful, distorted by a ridiculously high volume that should have gotten any respectable sound man fired. But it was all part of the spectacle, and Kiss, however cartoonish their image and limited their musicianship, could deliver quite an audiovisual assault at the height of their powers. I was young enough to be appropriately blown away.

That began a lifelong willingness to trek to shows that led to an abundance of memoriesnot to mention a pretty decent case of tinnitus.

Just as live shows became an obsession—from small local acts like the folky Nields to international superstars like Sir Paul McCartney—so did my desire to collect music. Like the guy in the old Memorex ads, I spent many an hour in front of home speakers with the volume cranked up. I think there’s a chemical change in the body when it’s bombarded with sound, and I enjoyed many moments thus engaged.

 

But Then One Grows Up…

Ultimately, as I grew from adolescence to adulthood, my tastes changed and widened. I’ve grown from a little rocker dude into a music aficionado with wide-ranging tastes. I enjoy jazz, ambient, and experimental music in addition to the classic rock, blues, and folk that served as the soundtrack to my teenage and young adult years.

Music plays a role in many aspects of my life to this day. My deep connection to the words and music of Phil Ochs influenced my most recent novel, Whizzers, and I spend most days at my desk with music playing on the iMac while I work. The CD and record collecting hobby has mostly transitioned to files, though I still like to pop in the occasional CD while driving in order to enjoy a better experience than mp3 files can provide.

And I think music ties in closely to the last couple weeks’ worth of blog posts. The themes of spirituality and metaphysics run through many of the songs I still enjoy, and in my own work as well. In the words of Frank Zappa, “Without music to decorate it, time is just a bunch of boring production deadlines or dates by which bills must be paid.”

dead

Celebrating The Dead

“The bus came by and I got on / That’s when it all began…”This week I was planning to write about some of my adventures (or misadventures) in southeast Asia. But the calendar tells me it’s September 23rd, and that’s a meaningful date in my history. So I’m going back...
spiritual

Do You Have An Interest in the Spiritual?

Today’s post is the second of a three-part series I’m creating on some of my personal interests. Last week, I wrote about metaphysics; this week, I’m writing about spirituality; and next week, I’ll be writing about music.Of course, the metaphysical and spiritual are...
market

How Do You Sell A Book in the Digital Age? Market, Market, Market

"I need a steam shovel, mama, to keep away the dead / I need a dump truck, baby, to unload my head." —Bob Dylan   Sometimes these days we all feel like the guy in today's photo, right? A head full of books—both paper and electronic—and a million tasks that need...
advance reader copy

Does An ARC Have to Include A Cover Illustration?

One of the most confusing concepts in publishing is that of the Advance Reader Copy, or ARC. I call it confusing because there appears to be no universal agreement on what those initials actually mean. While some sources refer to an ARC as an Advance Reader Copy,...

Indie Authors & Literary Fiction

Back in July, I posted an interview with fellow indie author Jay Lemming.  Jay has a terrific ongoing project simply called “Survey: Indie Writers of Literary Fiction.” In his survey, he asks fellow lit fiction authors about one of their novels, and in particular,...
followers

Frances Caballo on Why You Should Never Buy Twitter Followers or Facebook Likes

I don't often feature guest posts on my blog, but today's post is a special exception. Social media guru Frances Caballo graciously accepted my invitation to guest here.If you don't know Frances, you should: she's the author of numerous books on social media for...
recovery

Recovery 202? Long-Term Sobriety Is Possible

So, the plan for today was to write a post about recovery. Unfortunately, I’m in a different kind of recovery mode today—recovering from a sinus infection. What that means for you, the reader, is I’m going to keep this short. Really short. I took my last drink 30...
post

Why Subscribe To A Blog?

If you’ve been following me for awhile, you probably know I post something new on my blog most Mondays. Or maybe you don’t know that at all. I’ll admit, I’m not exactly the greatest promoter of my own blog. When it comes to social media platforms like Twitter, I'm...
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...

Writing Based on Experience

Recently, I’ve been writing more about writing, giving some explanations about why I write what I write…or, in the case of the three novels I’m currently promoting, why I wrote what I wrote. Brothers’ Hand, which takes place in the fictional town of Carverville, NY,...