Tag Archives: Influences

A Musical Journey – 1990

I’m starting my musical journey for 1990 with a familiar name.  I have a feeling many of you over the pond, will recognise this tune for certain, unless you’re too young too remember it.

1990 was a great year for Peter Murphy as he finally got the success he so well deserved with his third solo album, Deep where this song is from.

Cuts You Up spent seven weeks at the top of the U.S. Modern Rock charts.
Sadly, the English music press, snobbish as always, chose to ignore him once again, something he was familiar with in his Bauhaus days.

A Musical Interlude II

Still in the world of the internet-less, but I am in the pub long enough to log into my poor blog that’s feeling lonely from lack of attention from its owner.

Posting a video from Velvet Goldmine, which has become my favourite film ever and one to watch over and over as novel research and inspiration. The song, Baby’s On Fire is a Brian Eno track. On the film, it’s performed by Jonathan Rhys Meyers himself in an electrifying performance that oozes rock charisma. Those of you familiar with Bowie in his Ziggy period, will recognise the antics him and Ewan McGregor get up to onstage…

A Musical Journey – 1988

There’s only one song that represents 1988 for me, but first, a bit of rock music history to set the scene…

After Bauhaus broke up, everyone wondered what Peter Murphy would do next.  After a bit of experimentation in Dali’s Car with the late Mick Karn, he did what he should have done to begin with and went solo.  Meanwhile, the other three Bauhaus blokes formed Love and Rockets, a band I must admit to have always disliked.

Peter’s first solo album, Should the World Fail to Fall Apart  contains a track that inspired the band name for my boy’s rock band. It also has a great cover of Pere Ubu’s Final Solution. Indirectly, there’s a line in that song that’s meaningful in relation to the origins of my boy, who is not a supernatural creature but human. (I suspect maybe one or two of my friends will get this cryptic clue…)

For my chosen track, we have to move to Peter’s second album, Love Hysteria,  my favourite of his.  All Night Long has always spoken of hope to me. It is the ONE song I listen to when I am down and/or struggling. It also reminds me of the journey I’ve been on, ever since a lost boy called Julian came to me wanting to tell me his story three years ago. He is the one constant in my life, and it’s him, as well as Peter’s music as inspiration that’s kept me going all this time.

I cannot think of a better post to start this new year…

Peter Murphy – All Night Long

Guest Post – Connor Rickett

A while back, Connor asked me if I’d be interested in doing a guest post for his blog, and he’d do one for mine.  He wrote this great post below ages ago, and has been waiting for yours truly here to send one back to him. The agreement was that we’d post each other posts on the same day, but I think it’s only fair that I post his now, as I’ve taken forever to send him one.  He’s chosen to write about my favourite subject, music…

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Meet Connor...

Hey everyone, I’m totally, uh, chuffed to be chinwagging–am I doing this right? I learned all my British slang (with one exception) from J.K. Rowling–here on Alannah’s blog! Well, that’s enough for intros, time to make a royal fool of myself.

Writing for someone in another country is always a bit of a risk, ya know? Take my friend Bianca, she works in Winchester or Worcester, or someplace like that now. Somewhere with a Chester. Now, Bianca’s a proper and respectable young lady, but not long after she moved to the UK she reminded her friend loudly and in public not to forget her “fanny pack” which, as it turns out, is not the term you Brits use to describe the abominable offspring of belts and backpacks–e.g. backpacks that sit on your butt. What I’m saying is there’s a lot of room for innocent misunderstandings. Still can’t get any better if I don’t get outside my comfort zone, right?

So I figured, I’m just gonna talk about things the United States and the United Kingdom have in common starting with Music. Whenever someone gets on the subject real or imagined past, present, or future wrongs committed by our nations, we can say, “But hey, music.” And there’s really no argument.

I’m not a musician. I don’t play any instruments and singing ability is something I’d love to have, but don’t. My sister and mom both have lovely voices; what I have is a voice that can shake walls and say, “I’m not wearing hockey pads!” in fairly convincing Batmanian fashion. I’m guessing I take more after my dad, who’s never sung a song that wasn’t “Happy Birthday” in the almost twenty-five years we’ve been acquainted. It’s not all bad, of course; he has a fantastic reading voice, which has had rather an impact on the direction I chose to take my life; he gave me an unshakable love of stories right from the getgo.

And that’s another feature the UK and US share, deep down. Our national identities are tied to exploration. The British went all over the world, everywhere, which happens to be exactly where Americans came from. That’s the one thing every wanderer collects and takes with them, wherever they go: Stories. We are storytellers in our bones.

Writing and music are not all that distinct, either. They’re both just branches of that storytelling tree. I’m getting to a point, I swear. Until I remember what it was I’m just going to keep on going, though. We’re all disciples of the Gods of Words, the Muses, whatever you want to call that manifest desire of one human being to reach out and shape the world of those around them. Problem is, the GoWs seem to like some people more than others–and I they’ve got justification.

Take Tom Waits. He’s fantastic songwriter and storyteller, one of the best things the US has ever done to music, plus I’m writing this on his birthday, so I’ll be using him to make my (way in the general direction of a) point. You may have heard of him, you may not. You’ve seen him in movies, you’ve heard people singing his songs, though. For example, you’ve probably heard the cover done of this song by one of the worst things the UK has ever done to music.

Tom Waits, Downtown Train:

Really, though, my antipathy of Rod Stewart notwithstanding, the cool thing about music has over any other art form is the way two people can take the same notes and words and transform their meaning. Anyone really think Rod Stewart and Tom Waits are singing the same song?

OK, I like where this is going, and I’m going to keep using things the UK and US have in common: Jersey. Not to brag or anything, but America’s is a little newer.

You’ll see what I mean when I say the GoWs love Tom better than most of us. How many lovestruck men have penned songs for the objects of their amorous intent? I don’t have a number for you, but if I was put on the spot I would have to guess infinity. Now, how many ended up getting the girl they wrote it for? Twelve? Thirteen?

Tom Waits, Jersey Girl:

Notice he says he wrote it for his wife. Yeah. Now, how many of those songs made such an impression on Bruce Springsteen that he decided to record his own version? Just one. And it was Tom Waits’. It doesn’t seem fair, really, that we can’t all be the kind of artist who puts together a song for a girl (or guy), who then marries us, and then gets to sing the song onstage with a rock legend in his prime:

Bruce Springsteen and Tom Waits, Jersey Girl:

You are probably thinking that things like that just don’t happen. And you’re wrong, but only barely; things like this don’t just happen. There is a reason, and it bears thinking about. There are things that can’t be faked, like talent, but the world is so damned full of talent that it doesn’t know what to do with it all. That’s not a figure of speech, either, the world does not have room for the level of talent bouncing around it, so there’s more. There’s chance, but the thing about chance is that as long as you keep rolling the dice, your number’s bound to come up–the question’s how much you’re willing to lay on the line to keep rolling.

So what else is there?

There’s the drive, of course. The drive to become better. And this is why Tom Waits is great instead just a guy with funny-looking ears:

“Your hands are like dogs, going to the same places they’ve been. You have to be careful when playing is no longer in the mind but in the fingers, going to happy places. You have to break them of their habits or you don’t explore; you only play what is confident and pleasing. I’m learning to break those habits by playing instruments I know absolutely nothing about, like a bassoon or a waterphone.”

~Tom Waits

In order to succeed in music, in writing, in any endeavor that exists as much in the spirit as the mind, we must keep reaching and expanding forever. When we talk about artists who used to be great or relevant or however you choose to phrase it, it’s not that some vampire has been slowly taking their talent and ability from them. It’s that they’ve surrendered to being happy with how good they are, and that giant pool of talent is just waiting out there, full of people who want to be as good as their idols, and when they’ve finally arrived, they find they need to be better.

The enemy of creative endeavor is not critics, it’s the work, it’s not lack of talent, and it’s sure as hell not bad luck: It’s complacency. We can’t get any better unless we’re willing to get outside our comfort zones. . . Oh, uh, bollocks(?), I gave the ending away in the first paragraph!

Connor Rickett is a young writer in the early stages of Fortune and Fame. Specifically, Debt and Infamy. He’s currently living in Flagstaff, AZ (the part with snow and mountains), but likes to keep his boots on. People sometimes pay him to write stuff, but there’s a lot of free stuff on his blog.

A Musical Journey – 1986

Image by Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

1986- red rain – peter Gabriel

Each song I’ve chosen has personal meaning to me, in one way or another. 1986′s choice is no different.

Red Rain is the opening track from Gabriel’s classic So album. Produced by Daniel Lanois, it charted at number one in the UK album chart. The track is full of intricate musical details from the very start. Each sound creates an additional layer giving the track a dream-like surreal atmosphere. You can also hear the world music influences that show up in so many of his songs. The lyrics elude to many things. Gabriel himself has said a lot of his inspiration for the song came to him in a dream.

The sign of good writing, whether through a lyric or a novel, is that it can touch each listener or reader in a different way, giving us a chance to interpret what we have heard or read in our own way and this is definitely an excellent example of that. For me, the lyrics touch a part of me who knows only too well about the struggles we encounter and how they make us feel, and when Gabriel sings ‘It’s so hard to lay down in all of this’ I know exactly what he means…

A Musical Journey – 1985

Image by Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

1985 – How Soon is Now – The SMITHS

1985 was another great year in music. It was the year of Live Aid, and the year Dire Straits released their album Brothers in Arms, one of the first ever albums to be released in a new format called Compact Disc. Strangely enough, I have no recollection of CDs back then, but I was still purchasing LP records at the time.

How Soon Is Now by The Smiths, had been previously released as a B-side in 1984, in spite of that,  it is my choice for 1985 because it was released as a single that year, reaching number 24 in the UK Singles Charts.

It is a song of discontent and longing. I remember hearing it in clubs at the time, and relating to how Morrissey must have felt when he wrote it, but it’s not just those sad desperate lyrics that give the song its dark power, add Johnny Marr’s excellent guitar work throughout, and you’ve got an extra layer, which gives the song an amazing and powerful atmosphere.

A Musical Journey – 1983

I’m taking a slight detour for 1983′s musical journey….

My 1983 choice, is not really a song, though a song is involved.  It’s a film, more specifically, the beginning of a film. Tony Scott’s The Hunger.

The moment Pete Murphy makes his film debut performing the iconic Bela Lugosi’s Dead is my 1983 musical journey. Whomever edited the scene chose to focus on him only, probably because of his powerful performance.

There is no doubt Pete was the voice and face of Bauhaus, and whilst this sounds unfair to David J, Daniel Ash and Kevin Haskins, who were all great musicians and part of the band, there’s always been an unwritten musical pecking order, at least in rock music that places all attention on the frontman, then the guitar player,  followed by the bassist and lastly, the drummer.  Of course, there are always exceptions to that.

Pete’s striking looks and voice made him one of the most iconic rock performers at the time. Why didn’t Bauhaus become bigger? Maybe they were too dark for the general public, who has never had much taste. (If they did, rubbish like the X-factor would not be  success, but I digress.)

The screenshots below capture that dark essence he exuded whenever he performed with the band. It is no wonder his face inspired James O’Barr when creating The Crow. (O’Barr saw Bauhaus perform in Berlin) and there’s been other comics using his likeness as well .

This is who I watch and listen to, whenever I need to get inspiration to write…

The actual clip is below, I’m sure many of you are familiar with it, but if you’re not, it’s worth checking, you don’t get to watch the entire performance, only bits of it as the film begins.

(I see whomever has added this clip on YouTube mispelled the song. It’s BELA, not Bella…ugh)

A Musical Journey – 1982

Image by Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

1982 – In the Night – Bauhaus

1982 is a very pivotal year for me, as it is THE year my novel is set, at least part of it. It is when Brandon, Julian’s rock persona becomes famous.

If you have read my blog for a while, then you know how meaningful Bauhaus are to me. This particular song is from their brilliant The Sky’s Gone Out album, released in October 1982, the month the first part of my novel ends.

In the Night was the song I played for inspiration when writing a gig scene, where we first get a glimpse of Julian, as Brandon. It is also meaningful in other ways related to the novel, more on that, another time…

Musically speaking, it’s a great rock track, from that scratchy electric guitar riff played by Daniel Ash, to David J’s hypnotising bass line, whilst Kevin Haskins steers the song towards its punk-like crescendo ending, and through it all, Pete Murphy’s raw rock voice gives the song its dark decadent soul. Put it all together and you have the glittering darkness that was Bauhaus.

This is not one of their better known tracks but should be…

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OOPS!

Next Monday: 1981 because in my excitement over wanting to post about 1982, I totally neglected to feature a track for 1981. Thanks to my friend Carrie for making me aware of that via Facebook ^_^

(Never been good with numbers you know…ha ha)

A Musical Journey – 1980

Image by Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

1980 – Driven to Tears – The Police

They are many songs I could have chosen to represent 1980, but I’ve chosen Driven to Tears from the iconic 1980 release Zenyattà Mondatta. because it’s a great track that showcases the musical talent of each member of the band.

I became a bass player after listening to Sting’s sparse but powerful bass lines and this was one of the first bass lines I ever learnt years later.

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Stay tuned for…well, 1981, of course ;-)

A Musical Journey – 1979

Image by Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

1979 – Gary Numan’s Cars

Cars, with its iconic synth sound was the one song that made me aware there was more to rock music than drums, bass and guitar.  The track,  from Gary Numan’s Pleasure Principle, was released as a single in August 1979. It became a number one hit in the UK and a Top Ten hit in the US,  rising to number 9 there.

Years later, I was the proud owner of a Korg DW-8000 synth which I learnt to programme, though my main instrument was always bass.  When I placed an advert in a local music magazine to start a band, I came face to face with musicians who wanted nothing to do with synthesisers.  Their opinion that synths were not ‘real’ instruments always puzzled me.

As an artist, you must keep an open mind and learn to evolve with the times, if not, you will become stagnant, and how can you create if you’re stuck?

Most of you should be familiar with this song, if you’re not, have a listen. I wanted to use the original video, but YouTube isn’t allowing embedding for it…

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This is the first of a series of posts discussing music, year by year. I bet you cannot figure out what year comes next…

8-)