Category Archives: Tunesday

Tunesday: Postmodern Jukebox

Good Morning, my lovelies. I’m typing away at my WIP during breaks at a conference for the day job, and realized that it has been simply ages since I’ve posted anything. My bad — I can write the stories or keep up with my social media, but not both. So I’ve concentrated on the WIP for a few weeks. Sue me if its a problem.

But in keeping with my practice of bringing you thoughts on a Tune for Tuesday (see how clever I am with alliteration?), I wanted to share an odd yet appealing set of songs with you today.

One thing I love is mashing up two completely contradictory concepts into a unique, creative whole. Pride, Prejudice and Zombies? Loved it. (Of course, once it’s been done, it’s no longer creative and unique, so Sense, Sensibility and Seamonsters, not so much.)

If you like those kind of weird combinations where good ol’ “A” plus predictable “B” give us an amazing X, Y, or Z, you need to meet the good folks of Post-modern Jukebox. One Scott Bradlee, a music and history buff, got the brilliant idea to reinterpret the ubiquitous pop songs we all love to hate in unpredictable ways. Ke$ha goes country, Lourde becomes a male Pierrot clown, and Bieber swings it ’40’s style.

I love everything I’ve heard by PMJ, but my favorite has to be their doo-wop cover of Miley Cyrus’s We Can’t Stop. It’s tuneful, soulful, and waaaay better than the original. Check it out here:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=pXYWDtXbBB0&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DpXYWDtXbBB0

Tunesday: Summertime

Summer is fast approaching here on the Gulf Coast. Just yesterday, it seems like, we were shivering and suffering in the bleak desolation of February’s 50-degree days. Yeah, okay, so winter isn’t that bad down here. But we make up for it between May and October.
Yesterday was not bad, by Emerald Coast standards — it was about 88, with 80% humidity. That’s going to seem downright pleasant in a few more weeks, when we regularly top out in the high 90’s, and the air is so wet you’d swear you can wring it out like a dishrag.
And every year, I know it’s getting to be summer when I catch myself singing that greatest of odes to the lazy, crazy days — Summertime. I’ll get in the car, turn the AC all the way down to “Frigid Wastelands of Siberia,” peel my collar off my neck, and realize that I’m humming about jumping catfish and good-lookin’ mamas.
Yesterday, as I was driving along, discussing my plot with Bridget, my muse, and my two main characters (schizophrenia works for me!), Mr. Gershwin’s lyrics kept sliding through my head. Oh, the cotton is so, so high.
Many of you know that I always have a soundtrack for my books — songs that help me get into the character’s heads and experience their emotions. My current WIP is a Southern romance/women’s fiction involving a city girl who ends up living at the family fish camp in rural South Georgia. Yesterday, it hit me — I am nothing if not obtuse — the absolutely perfect song for a story about long, hot days sitting on the dock with a cane pole and an ice-cold Co’Cola: Summertime, as performed by the South’s First Lady of Heartfelt Lyrics, Miz Janis Joplin of Port Arthur, Texas.Listen to it here.
Does that make you wanna grab an innertube and run jump in the nearest swimming hole, or what?

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Tunesday: The Reason

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I’ve been working like a madwoman on my WIP. I’ve got a hero and heroine who are a bit older than Cassie and Mac in my previous book.

Emory and Gary are both a little more experienced in the world, and both of them have learned the hard way that dreams don’t always come true, no matter how hard you try. Both of them have given up, in different ways, and they find in each other a reason to try again.

I’ve always liked Hoobastank’s The Reason, but since I’ve been writing Emory and Gary, I find myself singing it incessantly (to my teenage daughter’s delight, NOT).

Anyway, don’t we all want to find that person who gives us a reason to try again, a reason to be better than we’ve ever been before? Here’s The Reason by Ernie Parada, as made popular by Hoobastank.*

I’m not a perfect person
There’s many things I wish I didn’t do
But I continue learning
I never meant to do those things to you
And so I have to say before I go
That I just want you to know

[Chorus]
I’ve found a reason for me
To change who I used to be
A reason to start over new
And the reason is you

I’m sorry that I hurt you
It’s something I must live with everyday
And all the pain I put you through
I wish I could take it all away
And be the one who catches all your tears
That’s why I need you to hear

[Chorus]

And the reason is you
And the reason is you
And the reason is you

I’m not a perfect person
I never meant to do those things to you
And so I have to say before I go
That I just want you to know

[Chorus]

I’ve found a reason to show
A side of me you didn’t know
A reason for all that I do
And the reason is you

Lyrics powered by LyricFind
written by PARADA, ERNIE
Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

*which is a great name, btw.

Tunes day Pity Party

It’s Tunesday again, folks! The day of the week when I share a few of the songs I’m listening to as I write.

And since both Bridget (my muse) and I are suffering from a bad case of the depresseds this week, let’s stick with that theme.

I get these bad spells, and I know they always end. But when I’m in the grip of the blue miseries, it’s hard to imagine ever feeling optimistic again.

Here’s a list of my all-time favorite wallow-in-my-sorrow songs. They’re seeing some heavy playlist action right now.

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Now, the are two other songs that are even sadder, and I cry every time I hear them. But they are too much for me – I don’t have either “Christmas Shoes” or “Tears in Heaven” on my iPod.

Tunesday: Yippee Ki Yi Yo!

When I was a smart-mouthed teenager, back in the Neolithic age, I couldn’t stand much of anything my parents did. They could have developed a cure for cancer, solved world hunger, and managed to transmute lead into gold, and I would have just rolled my eyes at them and muttered, “Yeah, whatever.”

But seriously! They didn’t do any of those things. They were just normal boring, hopelessly out-of-style parents who went to work, ate stuff I didn’t like, and listened to — of all things — country music. As a seriously groovy and cool chick in the seventies, I made sure that I let me distaste for my parent’s tunes be well known. I fought like the French underground in WWII, making clandestine raids on the car radio, switching the Grand Ol’ Opry to Casey Kasem’s countdown every chance I got.

But time catches up with us all, and karma is a bitch. Now, I look like my mom as I ride around in my SUV, trying not to grimace at the Beiber-ish stuff my teen favors. Seriously, if I hear “Call Me Maybe” one more time, I will not be responsible for my actions. And with my father’s passing a couple of years ago, I’ve found myself strangely drawn to some songs I never expected to put on my iPod.

Just last week, I found myself (sans teenager) tooling around town, singing “El Paso” along with Marty Robbins. When ol’ Marty saddles up and rides over to the cantina to see the saloon girl he loves, I can hear my daddy singing right along with him.

I never thought I would love the music I hated for so long, but I guess I’m my daddy’s little cowgirl, after all.

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Tunesday: What a Few Words Can Do

When I was a little girl, down here in the Deep South, learning how to do make up was a big part of growing up. I started with the little Tinkerbell brand kiddie lipstick and perfume, moved up to Bonne Bell Lip Smackers and Jean Nate Eau de Cologne, and now today, being a woman with funds of my own, I have reached the fully grown-up stage of Chanel and Bobbi Brown products.

What, you ask, does any of that have to do with writing? Well, for one thing, the Southern girls in my contemporary humorous fiction just love them some fancy makeup. Dear Cassie, in HOLDING OUT FOR A HERO, my most recent finished book, just may have fallen in love with the man of her dreams when he treated her to a full day of spa and salon pampering on a trip to NYC. Fashion, makeup and hair always play a big role in my contemporaries.

But even more than that, I have a lesson of my mom’s that I live by, not only in the realm of makeup, but in my writing. My momma would slather on her coat of Revlon Cherries in the Snow (perhaps the greatest red lipstick ever) and solemnly tell me: “Remember, baby. The point is to put on as much makeup as you can, without people thinking you’re wearing any.”

I think of my mom and her words of wisdom every morning when I try to see how many products I can use without looking “made-up.” But suruprisingly, I often remember this motto as I write. The best writers have a huge vocabulary, with far more words in it than they will ever use in their stories. But having all the different variations on a thought make it possible for you to say exactly what you mean, in as few words as possible.

One of the main goals I have as I write and edit is to put in as much meaning, as much nuance and subtle distinction, as possible without letting the reader notice my word choice. Kind of my mom’s beauty philosophy in literary terms.

You can see some masters of this theory at work in lyrics. I greatly admire lyricists; the idea of saying what you mean while making it rhyme, fit a predefined meter, and sound good when sung is far more difficult than writing fiction. But Lordy, when a lyric works, it puts so much in just a few words.

For example, for some reason, I got a dreaded earworm this week — you know, where a song gets in your head and will not move on. You hear it over, and over, and over, and … And an earworm usually is NOT a song you want to listen to 24/7. The one I got this week was (blast from the past) Delta Dawn, as sung in the 70;s by Helen Reddy.

Now, I’m not going to say that Delta Dawn is great art. But one phrase of the song got me thinking about this whole economy of words, of packing a whole lot more into a few words than you expect. In describing the poor jilted faded Southern belle, Larry Coliins and Alex Harvey put it this way: She’s forty-one and her daddy still calls her baby.

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Wow. Nine words. Thirteen syllables. But don’t you know everything there is to know about poor Delta when you hear that? I can see her in my mind’s eye, I can hear her talk, I know this woman. Amazing. I want to use words like that. Cram in all the meaning and description I possibly can, without the reader noticing that I’ve said much at all.

Have you got a favorite killer lyric that says exactly what you need to know? Tell me about it — one llucky commenter on the blog in the month of July will win an Amazon gift card!

(All the normal disclaimers apply. Don’t get all legal with me — I have a J.D. and I’m not afraid to use it.

Tunesday: Know When to Fold ‘Em

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I’m struggling with a decision here, kids. Don’t want to bore you with too much detail, but I’ve got something in my life right now that I’m really wrestling with.

As you go through life, the thing that once seemed perfect and irreplaceable becomes, with time and maturity, a little less valuable. I mean, as it turns out, I’m glad I didn’t marry Donny Osmond. (Sorry, Donny! One day I just realized I couldn’t respect a man with purple socks.)

Now, I don’t like to be a quitter. When I sign on for something, I’m in it for the long haul. After all, The Lord of the Far Junior College and I have been married 28 years!

But when something becomes more of a drain than you can support, when the joy is gone and the very thought of it fills you with dread, is it ok to jettison old baggage? If something that began as a helpful relationship turns toxic and sucks the happiness and creativity out of your life, should you kiss and say goodbye?

(No, sweetheart! Not you – a different, non-family type relationship. I’ll tell you later.)

So all week, I’ve been walking around humming Kenny Rogers’ THE GAMBLER. My question is, is it time to hold ’em or fold ’em? Should I walk away – or should I run?

Let’s Stop Calling it Tunes-day

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I’ve found a wonderful new-to-me artist, and I’ve been listening to her non-stop over the past few days. Her name is Mozella, and if you like Adele, Nelly Furtado, or (dating myself) Janis Joplin, I suggest you give her a try.

Mozella is a Michigan native, but let’s not hold Yankee-ness against her. The girl can flat out sing. She started taking guitar lessons as a young teen, went to L.A. and London in search of her big break, and finally ended up signing with Madonna’s Maverick Records. You’ve probably heard her without realizing it – her music has been used in ads for BMW and Nivea, as well as in tv shows like Pretty Little Liars, One Tree Hill, Bones and Kate Plus 8. (Let’s don’t hold that last against her either.)

When I found her song Let’s Stop Calling it Love, I had to go back and add it to the soundtrack for the Chick-lit I recently finished. It was just too perfect for my heroine, a sweet small-town girl who falls for her perfect romantic hero, only to discover that he has way too much he’s keeping from her. If you’ve ever been a girl who trusted a guy more than you should have (and, hey, who hasn’t?), you’ll love the lyrics:

We are exactly what we are
Let’s disregard the talk
of where we’re at and where we’re
going.
Why pick it all apart?
It’s just my heart. It’s just my heart.
I started out with so much hope,
Now it’s turned into a joke.
I’ll play along, expect no promise,
But while we’re at it, let’s be honest.
Let’s stop calling it love.
Let’s stop calling it love.
We’re better off if I surrender.
I give in, you win. Whatever.

There’s more in the same vein, about how she was kidding herself and she doesn’t want to use “that word” again. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been there. I can only hope that my book’s big breakup scene and its aftermath caught just a bit of the resigned disappointment that Mozella sings so well.

Listen to Let’s Stop Calling it Love and let me know what you think. It’s one of my all-time favorites now.

Creepy Love Songs

Back in my younger days, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I had a gentleman admirer who got, shall we say, a bit too enthusiastic about our relationship. He was simply crazy about me, and well, I was simply crazy. We’d been rocking along for a while, with him much more into the whole boyfriend/girlfriend thing than I was, when one day I finally had a lucid moment. I sat up, looked around, and realized that the whole china-pattern, white-lace-and-promises thing was not where I wanted to be heading. So I broke up with him.

He didn’t take it well. To say the least. Next thing I knew, he had dropped out of college to move to the town where I lived, and he was surreptitiously following me from class to class. Really over-the-top. And the bizarre thing is, idiot nineteen year old that I was, I wasn’t properly creeped out by it. I thought it was kind of sweet and flattering, in a nutso kind of way. Only years later, after serving as a prosecutor in domestic violence cases did I figure out that it was more psychopathic than romantic.

I tell you this embarrassing story from my misspent youth in an attempt to explain a phenomenon I’ve noticed lately – the creepy love song. As y’all know, one of the first steps I take in writing a story is to put together a playlist that captures the characters’ thoughts and emotions. And since I’m kicking around a kind of chick-lit rom-susp stalker story for NaNo next month, I looked for songs that got into my villain’s mindset. Believe it or not, the problem wasn’t finding stalker songs – it was narrowing down the list of contenders!

Let’s start with a favorite from my youth (right about the time my boyfriend went nuts, in fact): Blondie’s One Way or Another: “I will drive past your house and if the lights are all down, I’ll see who’s around . . . I’ll walk down by the mall, stand over by the wall, where I can see it all, find out who you call.” Ick. No. No, you won’t. Please tell me you won’t.

Or another favorite from the old days, Animotion’s Obsession: “You’re an obsession, you’re my obsession. What do you want me to be to make you sleep with me? I will have you, yes I will have you , , , Like a wild butterfly, I will collect and capture you.” Ugh. Restraining order, much?

Now, lest you think that this is only an issue with songs from the fun-loving 70’s and 80’s, here’s some of Death Cab for Cutie’s I Will Possess Your Heart: “You reject my advances and desperate pleas, I won’t let you let me down so easily. You gotta spend some time with me, and I know that you’ll find love, I will possess your heart.” And so forth from there, all about walking past your window and dreaming of when “we’re lovers at last.”

But for sheer 911-call inspiration, I guess the top song of all time would be the Police’s mega-hit, Every Breath You Take: “Every move you make, every step you take, I will be watching you. Every single day, every word you say, every game you play, every night you stay, I will be watching you … Oh, can’t you see, you belong to me. . . “

Oh, come on, people. Yes, a little over-the-top devotion is nice. But following me to the mall, watching every night I stay with someone, and eventually collecting and capturing me? No thanks.

Have you noticed any of the words to your favorite songs lately? Any of them particularly creep you out? It’s almost Halloween, so share the scares!

Raise Your Glass to Tunesday

This week’s tune isnt one that has anything to do with my WIP. I frankly don’t know why I like this song. In general, I’m one of those fussy mom-if-teenage-girls types who deplore the glorification of recreational drunkenness, gangsta culture, and everything this song is about.
But dang it, it’s catchy! It makes you wanna go out with all your fellow underdogs, raise your glass and party all night long.
Because, you know, under all the old woman exterior, there is still my inner teenager, who is still too school for cool.

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