Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Music Journal

All this nonfiction has me sentimental over my old frenemy, fiction.

One of my favorite creative writing exercises ever was what my professor called a "music journal." A music journal were short entries lasting as long as the song did and writing whatever came to mind throughout the song. It was, of course, a brainstorming tool. Get your creative juices flowing so-to-speak. But what I really reveled in it was the fact I kinda did this on my own already.

Every one of my short stories has a soundtrack.

Needless to say, this exercise was easy for me. It was a rush. Write to the speed of the song. The emotion, the rhythms and the beats, the crescendo and the lulls. Music is a survival tool to my fiction. Maybe it's all those movies I see, but I believe that every story needs a tune.

So here is my music journal because fiction, you kill me, but I love you.

1. "Countdown" by Phoenix

My hair poked him in the eye but we didn't care. Head-banging was our specialty and this was our grand finale. HE raised the volume a bit more. At volume notch "60" the house shook with each new bass introduced to our "I need to feel something" song. Our parents knew that we knew that this family was never going to reciprocate from what had occurred the night before. I couldn't stop jumping and neither could Bobby. I loved him for that-I knew that he was my brother because of it. We jumped together and we knew that our parents knew that we would leave. We couldn't be around the house without the blasting music because once it all went silent-we would all have to talk.

2. "I Was A Lover" by TV on the Radio

Roxanne gilded across the stage. Dripping from sweat but nevertheless sexy. She dragged her heels on purpose because that's what got them going. Her eyes scanned the audience of cameras. All flickers-not a moment to breathe, but she knew what it was all about. She had to deal-it was in her contract. She was far enough to not give a shit but appear grateful. One hand at 45 degree-angle to her hip, the other limp but ready to wave. "Heyhoneywhataboutthatnewrumoryouhad-" she didn't bother to listen to the rest. Dragging along she reached point B. Around the corner, and the path become pitched black. Door closing, she turned one last time to flash her own 1000 watts. A bang as the lock entered back into its latch and she closed her eyes: home.

3. "Private Eyes" by Hall & Oates

It was the new government's sick joke that the song be played on every radio station on every hour. All stations were presented with a list of approved songs for the public a media buddy of mine informed me. The crew was taking a rare break on 9th hour. Those damn big boys had some sense of humor. Personally I thought their love for Hall & Oates was gay. But I suppose that's what power does to a man-makes him gay: never ceasing to be happy. Happy bastards. It was good times indeed for their lot. For the rest of us, we sat listening to the synchronized harmonies and thought about what we wouldn't be able to do tomorrow or who we wouldn't see. Our women might as well been non-existent. Extinct. They deliberately wanted us to turn to each other for comfort. Sick fucking irony. They were watching us but we were as well. Our first move would come sooner than the 10th hour.

4. "Death is a Disease" by Clint Marshall for Aronaseky's "The Fountain"

My eyes scanned the text as fast as they could. Meaningless-I thought to myself. The pursuit was futile as the words had no meaning to me. Scratches engraved on the paper, I squeezed the edges of the cover to force some sort of miracle upon my brain to the book. Please-I begged it. I was at an age when trying seemed too young and not reading too old.

5. "Julia" by The Beatles

I never sang alone in public. I forbid it. Yes, I could carry a tune-no problem. "Happy Birthday" never stressed me out. But if there was audience and it was only I singing-I rather be dead. But Julia was dead. She was still crying. Three hours and the tears wouldn't stop. I didn't know what else to do. So I sang. I sang because that boy from that party should have never touched. That boy from the party from Friday night on her night out away from home should never have existed. He needed to still be a stranger that didn't like the way Julia looked her in light blue dress with her white mary jane heels. He was not allowed to like her legs-firm from being a runner. His eyes should have turned to the next girl because Julia was my sister and I never needed to sing to her.


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