Tag Archives: music

Letter to Rob: Chip Tooth Smile

Dear Rob,

Been a while. I wanted to listen to the new album on my morning walk, but Spotify was misbehaving by shuffling the songs, and I couldn’t get it to stop. Thing is, I like to first listen to an album straight through because I believe the way it’s put together is just as important as the individual songs. Maybe I’m old fashioned that way. In this day of people picking and choosing songs and not having to purchase whole albums, maybe the order doesn’t matter so much. But I know work goes into that order, too, so I still like to listen to an album in the way it seemingly is meant to be heard, at least the first time.

All that is a long way of saying I’m still working on it. What I’ve heard so far I like, though there’s a certain homogeny to the sound. Perhaps that’s intentional, meant to help it all hang together. I haven’t decided whether I like it, though.

There’s certainly an undercurrent of mortality here, too, something a tad… I don’t want to say “maudlin” because that’s not the correct word for it, but… Despite protestations to the contrary (“Dying Young”), deaths of various kinds haunt what I’ve heard. An attempt to shake them off or something.

“Sentimental” maybe? Here I am, a writer, and I can’t think of the word I want. Sigh.

Between the sound and the lyrics, the whole thing makes you seem stuck on a feeling, like you’re going in circles. And that’s okay because I think that happens to a lot of people, and so this album will speak to them. Each song will reaffirm something in them because they’re feeling that way, too.

I’m probably not even making sense now.

Long letter short (too late), I do like what I’ve heard so far, though I don’t actually like the name of the album at all for some reason. That’s a “me” thing, however, something I’d need to self-delve about. The Spotify animation, too, is distracting, but I’m never really looking at my phone as I listen, so whatever.

Congrats and good luck with it and the tour.


Win a Copy of Faebourne!

This is completely random, and the two things are utterly unrelated, but last night I was futzing around on Spotify and adding some songs to my library. I realized I had no Elton John. Not that I’m some huge EJ fan, but there are a number of songs of his that I like, and two in particular. So I thought it might be fun for readers to guess what they might be. The first people to guess correctly will win a copy of Faebourne when it comes out on November 12.


1. To enter, simply guess which Elton John song is my favorite.

2. You may only guess one song per comment. Up to three guesses per person.

3. Your guess must be posted in the comments here, on this post.

4. There are TWO winning answers, so two people will win.

5. Sorry, family and close friends, you are ineligible to enter. (“Close friends” does not include Internet friends and acquaintances.)

6. Contest will go until both songs have been correctly guessed OR until October 26, whichever comes first.

Spotify is not a sponsor of this contest, nor does it have any connection of any kind to said contest.

Remakes Blogfest

So the point of this blogfest, as conceived of by Alex J. Cavanaugh and Heather M. Gardner, is to blog about a favorite remake. This means movie, song, whatever. Is there any time a remake is as good as—maybe even better?—than the original? Of course, that’s a matter of opinion. So FWIW, here’s mine.

My favorite remakes tend to be songs. Two in particular spring to mind. I really like Sheryl Crow’s cover of Bob Dylan’s “Mississippi.” To be fair, I heard Crow’s version first, so I had no preconceived notions of the song going in. I think we often prefer the first version we see or hear of something because that’s the one that makes the lasting impression. We can appreciate other renditions, but it’s not the same.

The second cover I particularly enjoy is Rob Thomas’ [gasp! you’re so surprised, I know!] version of Smashing Pumpkins’ “1979.”

Here’s the original, which is a great song in its own right:

You can listen to Rob’s version on iTunes here.

I was never into Smashing Pumpkins much, so I think my love of the remake is probably rooted in my love for Rob and his music. Matchbox Twenty did a really haunting version of Fleetwood Mac’s “Never Going Back Again,” too, which I adore. You can listen to that here. Compare it to the relatively upbeat original here. I do really admire artists who can take something and completely transform it.

WIPjoy #12

12. Song/s on your MC’s playlist.

She would never admit to this, but she likes some of the music her dad listens—or listened—to. Like Fleetwood Mac and Elton John and The Police and (very, deeply secretly) Jim Croce. And the usuals from that period, too, like Pink Floyd and Queen. Maybe a bit of Moody Blues. Classic rock, basically, and while she probably wouldn’t be teased for it, Nissa errs on the side of caution and doesn’t really talk about her taste in music. Her friends can blare the latest radio pop star and she’ll just nod.

Playlist would include:

“Friends” by Elton John
“A Kind of Magic” by Queen
“Operator” by Jim Croce
“Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” by U2
“Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac
“In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel
“Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” by The Police*
“The Road and the Sky” by Jackson Browne
“Breathe” by Pink Floyd

*This is the one Nerissa dances to in her room when no one else is around.

Song of the Day: “So Sad, So Lonely”

I found out
On a late night drive
In my winter coat
With my blood-shot eyes
My faith ain’t been
No friend to me
And the way I sin
Is hanging off of me

And I’m sorry
You can’t take me anywhere
Pretty soon we’re almost there
Baby, one more night
It’s been a long, long drive
And I’m way, way tired
I don’t need no
Back-up plan

I don’t want nobody
Nobody don’t want me
I’m so sad so lonely
But I’m always landing on my feet

One more time
With a sad, sad smile
And your white bread friends
In the circus life
All the one-way rides
The sweet beginnings
Passing on the left-hand side
With a sideways smile

And I’m always
One step from stalling
Bad trips can make great stories
Dance all night
With your ass on fire
And your hands up high
And feel me one more time

I don’t want nobody
Nobody don’t want me
I’m so sad so lonely
But I’m always landing on my feet

I learn to love myself
And I don’t need no one else
And when a love moves on
’cause it gets cold
Then another moves in
And it can fill the hole

I’m one more
Hopeful lying on the bedroom floor
No sense trying
When the whole thing drops
You lose your nerve
I hope you get what you deserve

I don’t want nobody
Nobody don’t want me
I’m so sad so lonely
But I’m always landing on my feet

– Matchbox Twenty

Listen on YouTube

WIPjoy #4

Share a song that inspires you for this story.

Um . . . Maybe something by October Project? I mean, nothing immediately springs to mind, which is kind of weird since I usually do use songs for inspiration. Maybe the Waterboys’ take on Yeats’ “The Stolen Child”? It simply uses the poem:

Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water rats;
There we’ve hid our faery vats,
Full of berrys
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim gray sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And anxious in its sleep.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Away with us he’s going,
The solemn-eyed:
He’ll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest.
For he comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than he can understand.

Listen to the Waterboys sing it here.

Song of the Day: “Dizzy” by Tabitha’s Secret

And outside the sky is falling
People dodging raindrops, staying dry
And inside I never gave a damn
About those outside people anyway

And it hurt me
They don’t even know who I am

And inside, there’s no rainbows
And inside, I try, I try, I try
Try to clear my head
And outside, the rain is drying
And inside, I’m dying

‘Cause in here, I’m staring at the rings
My coffee cup has made on the table
And in here, I know, I know I know
That this is as good as it gets

And in time I hope to be the one
That talks about the other half
And until then, I count the cracks on the wall
Until it’s time to lay my head

And inside, I play with shadows
And inside, I know, I know, I know
That I’ll feel this way all day, all day
And outside, there’s hope for trying, inside I’m dying

You walk before me, Lord knows I can’t follow
You walk behind me and I don’t think I can lead
You walk around me, please don’t walk around me
‘Cause you know how dizzy I get

And Sometimes . . . the Music Saves Me

Me. Today.
Me. Today.
I’m going to be brutally honest. It’s the kind of thing a lot of people don’t like to hear or take seriously. The worst is when I’m accused of being dramatic. I think people do that sometimes because they don’t want to believe what I’m saying. But I’ll tell you, there’s almost no worse reaction to have because then I feel discounted and . . .

Dispassionately, here are the facts. Sometimes it occurs to me that I’m never going to achieve the things I want to achieve in life. I’m never going to get to where I want to be. This is the bane of the ambitious, I suppose. I’m not saying I don’t have a fine life—I do. But there are dreams I’ve had since childhood, and they always seem outside my grasp. And that’s very frustrating for me.

So sometimes, just sometimes, I think life isn’t worth it. That I’d rather cut my losses than keep struggling when it’s so fruitless.

This is why I try always to have things to look forward to on my calendar. Vacations, whatever. While I realize it’s selfish of me to use that as a motivator rather than, say, think of my family, well . . . I can’t help what works as a carrot and what doesn’t. I love my family, no question. And wanting to see the kids grow up is also a good motivator. But that seems so far away, so amorphous, and I need more concrete and immediate things to make me want to stay here.

January was difficult. February was overscheduled and difficult. It’s been a bad time. But today I heard Whitney Houston singing “Higher Love” on the radio, and I remembered how much I love Steve Winwood. So I downloaded Roll With It and some of his other songs and went for a walk. And the music brought me joy, the desire to dance again. It brought me happy memories of days filled with the scent of fresh-mown grass, nights spent in my room listening to the radio and just fully absorbed in the music.

Today, the music saved me.

To be clear, this is not a “cry for help.” This is simple fact, something I deal with regularly. I don’t necessarily expect people to understand, but I appreciate it when people let me know I mean something to them. It goes a long way toward making me feel less alone. I think ambition is tied to a need to feel important, and knowing I’m important to people helps.

The world is scary. I see the way water is going . . . I look at the direction my country is headed . . . Even outside my personal issues there are reasons to want to run away, disappear. So what I need are more reasons not to.

“After the Fall”

Author Erika Gardner is featuring The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller on her blog today, connecting it to October Project’s “After the Fall.” That’s a song that is special to me, so I’m more than pleased to see it used in conjunction with one of my books.

I first learned of October Project from my friend Abby, who made me a mix tape (remember those?) of songs that reminded her of, well, Sherlock Holmes and such. Stuff we have in common. “After the Fall” was on that tape as an atmospheric, Doyle-like tune. When I heard it, I went out and bought the CD straight away.

If you don’t know October Project, give them a listen. And if you don’t know Peter, get acquainted with him, too. And I do hope you’ll also pop over and visit Erika as well.