Thursday, January 6, 2011

Novel Songs #3 What I Wanna Know by Serena Ryder

Serena Ryder came to my neck of the woods -- in fact to the Great Northern four blocks away -- not so long ago. I was just beginning to pay attention to guitar playing, singing, performing. She astounded me. And not just for her fringe leather dress. She was alone on the dive bar stage, only a couple feet above a crowd of cell-phone lofting girls and beer-sloshing boys, and somehow, mysterious and awe-inspiring, she commanded that seething bar. Just her. Just a little guitar and that great dress. At one point, she promised more if only someone strong and willing would bring her a sheet of plywood. Someone, of course did, and then she did.

Buy It!

I kinda fell in love with her.

Although most of the songs in this novel are old and easily conjured by anyone near my age, this one is not.

After her performance at my local dive bar, I downloaded three of Ryder's songs and inserted them on some writing playlist or another. I fiddled with many songs as I worked on Starr's first scene, but this one kept coming back, kept insisting I break my rule of choosing readily recognizable tunes. The pathos just fits too well for Starr, and the music -- so simple and passionate -- are too fitting for where Starr's is at as the reader meets her.

Here's bit of how I use the song ...

Starr kicked the crowbar loose from the frozen ground. “Hey, Jimmy,” she said, and felt the ground flatten and still.

I can't shake the pictures
You've locked in my head

I got desperation
Tearing up my voice

The goat broke forward.

When Starr swung, she swung at everything.
At Tim dying and leaving her with the farm, the kids, the endless chopping, weeding, canning. At her needy silence that had taken her only friends.

The crowbar met the side of Jimmy’s neck. He stumbled sideways.

Starr choked up on the iron and swung down on the top of his head.

Blood sprayed from Jimmy’s nostrils and over Starr’s bare legs as he went down. Starr stood above him, crowbar raised. He didn’t move. Not a twitch.

What am I, what am I
what am I to do

Who am I, who am I
Living without you

Starr reached for the photo and brought it close, her breath falling on it in plumes. Was it that simple? Lose a husband, whack the goat twice with a crowbar, and you can go back?

She brought the weight of the crowbar and the smell of sour blood across the yard, threw the crowbar into the back of the Scout, and headed into the cabin.

So the third song for which I want complete rights to reprint lyrics and, hopefully, maybe, include in a novel album. Serena?

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