Lyrics, And The Importance Thereof.

So here’s the story about how lyrics I’ve known for over 30 years brought me to happy tears tonight.

You first need to know that my wife, Leanne, is a fabulous artist. She makes amazing jewelry, and she had the courage to strike out on her own several years ago. Since then, the economy has performed its usual fol-de-rol, and as such she’s decided to take on a side job at a grocery chain.

Her shift this morning was 6 AM – 2 PM, and she left the house before I was out of bed. As such, when I came home at 4:30 (PM), she was cocooned in a blanket on the sofa. While I am often out of bed before she is, it’s rare that I have a chance to see her sleeping and at peace; which brought this song to mind.

My late father Craig Ewert loved Jethro Tull, and I inherited that love when he shared it with me. Several old friends have told me they think of me when they hear Ian Anderson sing, and that makes me happy.

I kinda wanted to send Leanne this song, after watching her sleep this afternoon. But I’ve been burned by lyrics before, so I decided to double-check. And my mind, it was blown.

This song was recorded before I was born, and I’ve been mis-hearing the lyrics forever. In my head, they always went like this:

What a reason for waiting
And dreaming of dreams
So here’s hoping you’ll fail
In impossible schemes

A very Scots warning against over-reaching yourself. A very reasonable note that you won’t always succeed, that it’s all right to aim lower than you could, that nobody could blame you for settling. That really, in the end, you’re always going to fail.

But tonight, before sending them to my sleeping beauty, I looked up the lyrics on Google Play.

What a reason for waiting
And dreaming of dreams
So here’s hoping you’ve faith
In impossible schemes

I’m still in tears, frankly, over this confusion. That for thirty or more years, I’ve held back. And that I’m not too old yet for faith.

Thank you, Ian. Thank you, the long-gone Mr. Tull. Thank you to the Blades. Thank you to Leanne for this gift, and thank you to my father, who bequeathed me with cynicism and hope in equal measures.

Right. It’s a work night. No more tears, but thirty years of memories to unpack.

Music of the Fears – January 2015

Scholar and gentleman Michael Grasso of the Renfusa blog pointed me to this article on teaching yourself creativity.

It’s an interesting read – an article I’ll likely mine for more blog posts in the future on topics such as the role of personality in creativity, my collection of self-help books on how to engage the creative mind, and the impact of a positive outlook on your own creativity.

Today, I’ll start with this quote:

“Most creative people have figured out a way to do the incubation thing—whether it’s meditation or staring out the window or taking long walks so their ideas can percolate,” Jung says. “It’s finding that magic space where you’re not actively engaged with the external world, and not just surfing the Internet.”

That kind of woolgathering was once my stock in trade. My bread and pickles. The trait that’s annoyed more of my teachers and romantic interests than anything else.

The arrival of the internet has made it both more difficult and simpler. More difficult, because left to my own devices, I’ll surf Pinterest and Reddit for hours at a time; and nothing kills my creativity faster than that aimless browsing.

Simpler, because I have four primary means of incubating: Meditation, Exercise, Driving … and Music.

Of course, one of the things the internet does really, really well is introduce me to music I would never have found in my local record stores or on the radio.

My alpha readers for FAMISHED: THE RANCH are getting notes on what music I listened to while writing various chapters. Since it’s a Friday before a long weekend, I decided it would be a friendly gesture to point others in the same direction.

When I’m not writing, my tastes trend to ska and hard rock. When writing, though, other people’s words get in the way. As a result, most of what I use to get into the incubating stage is ambient, electronic, or in a foreign language.

Most importantly – if you love the track, buy it! If you love the artist, let them know! Musicians, writers, and all other creatives need your support.

How about you? If music helps you get into the mood, share the love in a comment below.

Writing Music: Kodoma, by Kikagaku Moyo

There is so much to love about this track from Kikagaku Moyo. It manages to sound perfectly modern while still bearing the influence of music from my parents’ collections – I haven’t heard a musician seriously discuss the Incredible String Band since 1979. Too often when I’m writing or editing, the soundtrack needs to be dark and heavy. Kodoma makes me feel like I’m walking through my favorite section of the prairie near my home, a place where I spent many of my happiest hours of childhood and adolescence. As such, it’s earned its place as the final song in my writing playlists – something I can reward myself with in the late hours of the evening. It’s a song that can direct me toward my dreams, away from my nightmares.

Music of the Fears

I talked a bit about using music as a way to clear your head the other day, which made me realize that music I currently listen to is a key part of my writing process. Not just because I need to tune out my wife’s television shows while I’m working, but because the words flow more easily when I’ve got a groove in my head.

So what was I listening to while writing FAMISHED: THE FARM?

Ambient music, mostly. No words, or words in a language I don’t understand. French seems to work well for some reason.

The Dusted Jazz albums from Jenova7  blend jazz and trip-hop in a delicious combination that lent themselves well to the few urban scenes in the novel, as well as a lot of the dialogue pieces.

For the scenes with the wendigo, wound, and other spirits of nature, Until We Meet the Sky by Solar Fields worked a shoegaze trance that put me into a different, driftier headspace. While the spirits I’m writing about are anything but unfocussed, it helped me disconnect a bit from my humanity in order to wrap a little alien into their features.

Into the Hinterland by the Secret Exploration Society and the soundtrack to the videogames Bastion and Minecraft both made good background tracks for places that needed better description or sharpening scenes.

And while I haven’t read or seen The Hunger Games, the fact that Sam Cushion actually wrote an orchestral fan-score for the book called Music of Panem: Beginning of a Rebellion tickled me so much that I kept it on repeat whenever I started wondering if my work was worth the effort. The thought that other creators might one day get something out of my creations  kept me going through the rough spots.

Of course, different projects call for different music. My works of suburban horror tend to more modern or cool jazz such as Dave Brubeck, the Trio Vadim Fyodorov, or Nick Pride and the Pimptones; while my fantasy stories are almost always backed by either alternative world music from artists like Azam Ali or Irfan, or a shuffling of darkfolk and modern stoner metal such as The Sword of Doom or Witch.

What music fuels your passion and creativity?

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