Monday, October 18, 2010

Novel Songs: #2 Waiting for the Miracle

The second Novel Song I'd like free rights to use is Leonard Cohen's Waiting for the Miracle. Cohen is probably my favorite song writer. In fact, we wrote a novel (Beautiful Loser) that's lyrical and worth the strangeness. I'm sure he decided that applying his talents to songwriting was more profitable and satisfying.

Although I'm not given to enjoying concerts, my husband and I made a pilgrimage to Calgary to see him last year. He's in his 80s and we live in the sticks so we worried it would be one of our last chances.

This youtube concert footage looks like it's from the same tour.

Still sexy after all these years. I remember a couple of Cohen songs in the 80s; I think it was the 80s, but I didn't like either of them. I wasn't until I was well into my thirties, that I somehow rediscovered Cohen and fell in love. If I had to listen to one voice and one songwriter for the rest of my life, he could be it.

You can buy the song here. I've included most of my favorite Cohen songs, but only a couple are featured in the book draft.

Here's a tich of how the song is integrated in my W.I.P.

Her blue guitar gleamed; it’s steel strings, catching the snow-bounced light pouring in the rows of windows. She ran her thumb across the calloused pads of her left hand and slipped out of the pew. She walked cautiously down the center aisle toward her guitar, a processional of memories moving with her. They always did when she played... Sometimes she even played their songs — the thirty-three they’d chosen for the first gig — and sometimes she imagined there was nothing to forgive and she’d never lost them. She could call up Nikki or Starr and…but it had been too long for a long time. Construction light blared through the window. She could not forgive. Herself. Or them. Lauren slung her guitar across her hips and strummed the opening chord of the song that had been humming since the drive home, number twelve on the list.

I know you really loved me.
but, you see, my hands were tied.
I know it must have hurt you,
it must have hurt your pride
to have to stand beneath my window
with your bugle and your drum,
and me I'm up there waiting
for the miracle, for the miracle to come.

The chords sounded thin and bare unplugged. Snow fell and slid in a wet whisper on the pitched roof. She walked a progression up the neck and felt it. Something crushing inward inside. She’d been menstruating for, what, thirty years. She knew, she wasn’t pregnant. Doctor Millner had told her this would happen. Her clockwork twenty-eight-day cycle would go off — twenty-four days, thirty. It was day thirty-one. She hadn’t even been pregnant; she’d used up all her chances.

I didn't see the time,
I waited half my life away
There were lots of invitations
and I know you sent me some
but I was waiting
for the miracle

for the miracle to come.

Lauren paced back down the aisle to her pew and lifted the rejected cigarette. Guitar still swaddling her hips, she pushed out The Church door. She lit the cigarette and stared through pooling smoke and veils of confetti snow at the accusing whore car. Dead calm, she knew. Even part-time smokers have a special relationship with wind. Lauren knew it was dead calm. She inhaled. She was glad; she didn’t want to be bound to him like that, like new baby binds you to a man, to the life you’ve ended up with. If she wasn’t going to have a baby, at least she’d have the possibility of freedom.

Ah I don't believe you'd like it,
You wouldn't like it here.
There ain't no entertainment
and the judgements are severe.
when you're waiting
for the miracle, for the miracle to come.


Lauren touched Starr’s face in the photograph. Starr had swooped into Lauren’s life, twigs and drums, and saved her, at least that’s what Lauren had thought all those years ago. Lauren blew a jet of smoke out her nose. She’d been wrong about a lot of things, beginning with Starr.

Nothing left to do
when you know that you've been taken
Nothing left to do
when you're begging for a crumb
Nothing left to do
when you've got to go on waiting
waiting for the miracle to come

The rational thing would be to ask Matt to fingerprint the photo, but Lauren couldn’t afford rational. One of them must have sent it. Probably not Starr.

The Church darkened; they’d switched off the construction lights. But they’d be back at it tomorrow and the next day, blasting and digging at the mountain.

Ah baby, let's get married,
we've been alone too long.
Let's be alone together.
Let's see if we're that strong.
Yeah let's do something crazy,
something absolutely wrong
while we're waiting
for the miracle, for the miracle to come.

Lauren shuddered and stepped off the boardwalk, a solitary figure, letting the snow fall on her shoulders, on her blue guitar, on the photo. The first flake fell on her immaculate face. The moisture worked a truth serum; smooth skin buckled, flush lips contracted, a black-lashed eye smeared. She watched that night play again in her hands. Whoever sent it, whatever it meant, Lauren wasn’t up for it.

* * * *

So Leonard, if you'd like to give me the rights to use Waiting for the Miracle in my WIP novel, just say so.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Playlists -- Strippers

This playlist is too precious to pass up.

The author explains his playlist more eloquently than anyone could.

After years of slinging singles at scabby strippers on Wednesday afternoons, sometimes it takes more than just visual stimulation to make that free brunch buffet worth the trip to the club. Luckily, we’ve compiled the ultimate list of tunes to inspire your favorite ladies to work that pole a little harder. If hearing these tracks doesn’t send shivers flying down your spine, and bills flying out of your wallet, you wasted your junior high years. Or grew up in Utah.

I suppose I should not be surprised that folks have websites and blogs devoted to panty-stripping songs, but this one is for professional panty-droppers.

Before I get my granny panties on, we may as well start the playlist.

Get a playlist! Standalone player

I got no idea who Maxim is or why he/she is promoting these tunes as stripping anthems. They aren't sexy. They're the kind of songs the guys we dated before we knew that real men drove Hondas and Toyotas had playing in their Camaros and El Caminos when they picked us up for dates. (Okay, I only dated one guy cool enough for an El Camino, the rest drove Subarus. But I did my dating in Alaska, and I married the guy who picked me up for a first date in a Ford Maverick with no heater and a funny smell.) We knew, even then that these guys had no tangent line they could whip out to touch the female mind. We kinda knew their moms were hands-off; if they were past nineteen, we knew they still lived in the folk's basement.

Any stripper trying to lure dollar bills from the wallets of guys who get hot with these songs might as well go to his mother --who he still live with and who gave him all those singles because he told her he needed them for career aptitude testing, and when she asked him why the career counselor wanted payment in ones, he blew the hair out of his eyes with a big pfft, shifted the little foamy bead things in his bean bag, and said, "Why are you always up into my shit, Mom ?"

Despite the decrepit -- and poor -- nature of Maxim's playlist target guy, I think there is something worthy here for the writer trying to tame a scene in which a stupid man-boy thinks he's seducing the object of his ineptitude with songs girls think are stupid.

Also, if a girl says otherwise, she's just trying to get a dollar out of your pocket. With the exception of Wild Thing by Tone Loc and You Shook Me All Night Long by AC/DC -- both very cool songs.

P.S. In case anyone doesn't actually visit, I must steal these bits of costume advise from "Maxim."

Proper accessories for stripping to Aerosmith's “Sweet Emotion" -- frayed jean shorts, scarf, track marks. (What kind of track marks? There's so many.)

Proper accessories for AC/DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long": Schoolgirl uniform (bottoms optional)

When dancing to Def Leppard's “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” you'll need an oversized lollipop

“Cherry Pie” by Warrant requires "three pounds of red lipstick."

“Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne requires a bat costume

“Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake requires six-inch-tall bangs (what's that?), a loose blouse, and a car hood.

It's all fodder. But this stripper playlist only put me in the mood to kill a character.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Fetid Keyboard: Let's Write About Sex

I can hardly type the word "vagina." (That actually took me six seconds.) And I can especially not write other V-related words. I wrote the C word once in my last book and it took me two days. I actually looked away the other weekend while at a women's run when the woman in front of me had a "Vagina Monologues" t-shirt on. I just don't like the word; I don't like how it sounds or the visual of the composing letters. It's really just not a good word. And neither are any of the other, worser words.

So sex scenes are tough.

I'd like to lay my issues completely at the foot of this sorry word, but I'm afeared it goes deeper. My first passes through sex scenes are always either completely pornographic or drippy with euphemistic cliches. It's a terrible thing and I often wonder if it's because I don't go in for sex talk during actual sex. Thus when I come to the page, I got nothing word wise.

What's worse is that my work-in-progress kinda has to have several earth-shattering sex scenes. So I turn to music, which sometimes, somehow bridges the porno and the romantic.

We may as well start the play list so you have something other than my blathering to get you in the mood to write whatever sort of sex scene you gotta write.

Get a playlist! Standalone player

My husband came into my lair (office) after work and I proudly played this playlist. He looked at me strangely and said, "Those songs turn you on?"

I sputtered, "Well not really turn me on, but, um, help me write about, um, being turned on, or about characters being turned on. Or off, as the scene requires."

He said, "Barry White. I know Barry White turns you on."

"It's not about that," I explained.

He said something like, "Those songs don't turn guys on."

"It's not about being turned on." My voice may have gotten shrill when I said, "It's about CHARACTERS! WRITING! ART!"

He, again, looked at me strangely, offered to refill my wine glass, and said he had a few songs to add to the list. He said something like, "You know there may be some men who write sex scenes, too."

Then he said something asinine about I Want to Kiss You All Over and Over Again being a dorky line. And I said something about Led Zeppelin never having written a sex lyric. He said, "We'll see" and got that look in his eye and ignored me as I went on about characters and writing and nuance.

His sex scene songs are mostly at the bottom of the playlist. I want to state that they do not turn me on. I need a deep male voice and a hip-groove. But this isn't personal; it's about our characters. Although my husband reminds me that now that our playlist is portable through the magic of our home network and that we can play the sex-scene playlist in the living room, and, gasp, in the bedroom.

There's a lot of different sorts of sex-scene songs here. So try writing a sex scene to the songs here that hit the undercurrents you need.

Also I want to point out that not a single word in any of these song lyrics is "vagina."

Feel free to let me know of your favorite sex scene songs. If I like them, I'll add them to the playlist.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Girl Band Discovery Park: Emily Wells

Emily Wells, the outcast of, well, everything.

Wells eschewed record company deals to build her own recording studio -- digesting all those knobs and sliders, along with several courses of instruments -- to lay down mutli-instrument tracks and her own start-to-finish recordings.

A classically trained violinist, Wells became enamored with hip-hop and using the violin in manner to which it was unaccustomed.

Here's a favorite. Barrel of a Gun

Buy the song here.

Well's NPR interview here.

Download Discovery Park thus far:

Friday, October 1, 2010

Novel Songs: #1 Rebel Yell

I know it's stupid but I'm going to try to get permissions to use lyrics from 33 songs in my current WIP novel. It's about four, forty-something women who reclaim the girl band they'd had in college.

The first song I want to use the lyrics for is Billy Idol's Rebel Yell. I'm not sure who owns the licensing rights, but I want them -- for free.

Here's Mr. Idol performing the song recently with just a guitar backup:

Here's Mr. Idol performing in 2007. And look his body is actually better now! At least better than the poster my sisters and I bought in like 1985.

Billy Idol wrote Rebel Yell with guitarist Steve Stevens. Apparently he was inspired by this Tennessee bourbon label:

The song, released in 1984, only reached #46 in U.S. charts, but twenty-five years later, it's still a mainstay of bar bands.

Here's a little of how I use the song:

The red Jeep screams north on Highway 89. Blacktop unwinding over a basin of soft Mesozoic sediments laid down along the undulating west coast of the Inland Sea and past derelict homesteads, shedding roofs and walls into the prairie grass, slacking east with the prevailing wind. When the road straightens, the driver unclamps string-calloused fingers from the wheel and hits rewind on the tape deck. The tape screeches backward; the Jeep rushes forward and four girls sing, again.

In the midnight hour she cried more, more, more
With a rebel yell she cried more, more, more
More more more

Canvas top unzipped and snapped down, hair blowing, the moon pasting the road with light, hands flutter a rhythm on the seatback; fingers form chords on bottles or thrum air guitars. “We did it!” one of them says. We did. It’s like we can do anything. To our future. To the band. To tomorrow night. To us. Four girls in a red Jeep at the end of a big night raise and clink their bottles together, and the driver swerves to miss a porcupine waddling across the shoulder line.
The land here has been losing itself for millions of years, eleven thousand feet and counting, revealing an ancient subterranean fortress of volcanic intrusions — stocks, dikes, sills, diatremes. Younger, harder it rises from the worn-sediment basin as the Crazy Mountains. Few roads carve the fortress and these rarely traveled. Forest Service Road 419, once a prospector’s trail, then a wagon trail with a couple of small strikes, dodges off the blacktop, and the Jeep’s tires tread a skidmark making the turn. One of the girls squeals and sways, bumping against another in the backseat. Her wine cooler splashes Very Berry, dousing her thigh-squeezing cutoffs and the wad of graduation gowns and caps trampled on the floorboard. The Jeep claws up a hairpin switchback notched into the granite belly of the mountain. Then another.

What set you free and brought you to be me babe
What set you free I need you here by me
In the midnight hour she cried more more more
With a rebel yell she cried more more more


So, Billy, feel free to contact me.