In today’s mail, my contributor copy of Aurealis#40, containing my story Never Grow Old. Apart from your humble correspondent, there are contributions from, amongst others, three of my favourite Australian authors- Stephen Dedman, Paul Haines, and Adam Browne. You’ll be hard pressed to find a better trilogy of talent in an Australian magazine this year. Added to which, editor Stuart Mayne has answered my ego-boost prayers and awarded me another illustration by the sublimely talented Adam Duncan (who gave me the wondrous illo for Father Muerte & The Joy of Warfare in issue 37), so I’m a happy writer-guy indeed.
OTHER PEOPLE’S WORK
So it’s one of those periods where my own work sits forlornly on a shelf because I’m hip-deep in the works of others: my AHWA mentorship has entered its final fortnight, which saddens me because I’ve had a fabulous time working with Jason & Ben; and I am now the proud renter of three foolscap files of stories containing something like 100 stories to read in the next couple of weeks as part of a secret squirrel project I’m involved in. So there’s little to report in regards to my own advancements of word upon page.
List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now, shaping your winter. Post these instructions in your blog along with your 7 songs. Then tag 7 other people to see what they’re listening to.
Well, I’m not going to tag anyone, but seven songs? I can do that:
1. Everybody Knows You Cried Last Night- The Fratellis. I first heard The Fratellis as part of the soundtrack for the movie Hot Fuzz, where they contributed a rocking cover of T-Rex’s Solid Gold, Easy Action and their own composition, Baby Fratelli. It was enough for me to eventually get around to downloading their debut album Costello Music. And every track is a winner: stomping, infectious anthems that recall the best moments of bands like Little Feat, The Sweet, and the Small Faces. Honestly, I could have picked anything from this album- I’m listening to it at least once a day at the moment- but this is arguably my favourite (just shading songs like Chelsea Dagger and Country Boys & City Girls. Loving it. And now I have their follow-up, Here We Stand. And I’m loving that too. (Acid Jazz Singer already stands out)
2. Jump (They Say)- David Bowie. Grant Watson is responsible for this one, cutting a ‘Best of Post-89’ disc for me after a discussion of the man’s music. An ode to loss and despair in the wake of his brother’s death, it has become easily my favourite Bowie track because it’s one of the few moments where he comes out from behind the theatre and speaks directly from his pain. And there’s an amazing streak of gallows humour that runs through this, bleak and self-hating and immensely powerful. Like the best of Bowie’s work, it’s astonishingly tuneful, which means you can love this solely as a piece of music without grasping the deeper meanings behind the lyrics. It’s a truly masterful song, and another on my high rotation.
3. Blood Theme- Daniel Licht. Oh, I am so into Dexter right now. I own the first three books, I’ve bought the first season DVD box set, I even entered and won a Hachette Livre contest and scored another Season One box set, a t-shirt, and a blood spatter kit. And the soundtrack. Hotdamn, I love the soundtrack to the series. It’s schizophrenic: the first half based around a series of swinging Cuban dance tunes (and the abominable Andy Williams Born Free), the second half comprised of the creepy and haunting score by composer Daniel Licht. Again, I could have chosen any of Licht’s pieces, but Blood Theme, which closes each episode, has an extra quality- a sense of finality, a surety that the other pieces, by nature of their place within the show’s framework, lack.
4. The Ballad of Dwight Frye- Alice Cooper. I’ve been a huge fan of Cooper since seeing a theatre group perform a dance routine to Welcome To My Nightmare when I was 11. Bit by bit I’ve collected his catalogue, and some tracks, particularly from his early, pre-solo career, stand out as truly bizarre theatrical experiences: tracks like Halo of Flies and Desperado are incredible. I’ve loved this song since first hearing- I’m a Dwight Frye fan, and my story The Ballad of Henry Renfield (from the upcoming Monster Noir) was written very much as homage to it.
5. Death of a Clown- Kinks. Another song that has inspired my own work, in this case the premise and first episode of my TV series Cirque, which I pitched for the recent Screenwest TV Awards. Ray Davies is a beautiful writer of musical narrative, and there’s so much mourning and loss in this song that it grips me from beginning to end no matter how often I listen to it. Something is lost by the song’s narrator, beyond the death of the main charatcer: some sense of life, of immortality, of innocence. I know I’ll spend years trying to unravel the layers in this one, and applying that understanding to my own work.
6. Vicious Traditions- The Veils. Another song we discovered via the fillums. In this case, the Costner/Hurt vehicle Mr Brooks, a movie the Lyn and I love. Yeah, it’s got a couple of cop outs towards the end, but until then it’s fantastic, and this amazingly haunting song turns what might be a somewhat naff moment into a scene of true terror and loss. Taken on its own it stands out from the rest of the Veils’ somewhat mundane catalogue as one of those moments where somebody had an idea that went against the usual grain, took to it without fear of failure, and created something special.
7. The Dead Eyes Opened- Headless Chickens. It’s a dance tune set to a fake 30s radio story about an animate severed head on top of a bonfire. What else do you need? It’s loopy, funny, weird, and bloody catchy. Loves it, I do.
And you know, cos Battlists have the habit:
8. My Weakness- Moby. It’s no sceret that I find my day job spiritually exhausting. It’s deadsoul stuff, pointless adminsitrative database pounding that counts only for the time it takes me away from writing. There are train trips home where all I want is to sink into a soundscape and let someone else carry me into the clouds. And that would be Moby. Of several I could have chosen (I love The Sky Is Broken just as much), I chose this one because it was first on the playlist today.
There you go. If you do this one yourself, let me know in the comments or link back.