music

21Jun

Springsteen-Related Stuff

Two Bruce Springsteen points to make today. First, Clarence Clemons, saxophone player in Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, died a couple of days ago.

Known as the “Big Man” for his 6ft 5in frame and stage presence, Clemons was an original member of Springsteen’s E Street Band and has been called its “soul”. In a statement, the singer said his loss was “immeasurable” and that he and his bandmates were honoured to have stood beside Clemons for nearly four decades.

Describing him as “my great friend, my partner”, Springsteen added: “With Clarence at my side, my band and I were able to tell a story far deeper than those simply contained in our music.

“His life, his memory and his love will live on in that story and in our band”.

There was a man who could belt out a saxophone solo (at 4:00 in).

Secondly, last year I wrote a short story for Darkness on the Edge, which was a Springsteen-inspired anthology, and which today I discovered is now available as an ebook from PS Publishing for a very reasonable £3.99. It originally came out as a limited edition, so this is good news.

So many of Springsteen’s songs bring you close to the edge of a darkness where uncertainty reigns – a darkness not just on the edge of town but of our hearts and minds . . . the darkness between child and adulthood, perhaps; or between courage and fear; marriage and divorce; even confidence and self-doubt. These nineteen authors nudge us closer to an answer . . . and let us see what really is stirring out there in the shadows.

I don’t often write short stories but, being a fan of the Boss, it was one of those opportunities not to be missed.

15May

The Wall, Roger Waters, O2 Arena

I had been waiting about 12 years to see this show; it would have been great to have seen the original band (totally picked the wrong night), but seeing founder member Roger Waters was enough. (Besides, I saw Waters reunite with Mason a few years ago, so that’s pretty good as far as luck goes.) The Wall was Pink Floyd’s 1979 concept album – and theatrical show – about culturally inflicted isolation as a succession of events that form bricks in the metaphorical wall (‘Fear Builds Walls’ was a big motto on the night). It’s about government, war and capitalism, their role in isolation and abandonment, and much of this comes to light incredibly well in the actual stage performance. I was struck by how relevant this all was, even after 30 years (especially after 30 years, given the state of things). The projections were incredibly moving – showing emotional reunions between children and their fathers who had gone to war; the photos of those who had died in combat; pictures of tortured prisoners; footage of innocent people being gunned down by helicopters in Iraq, as well as a whole bunch of animations and neo-Nazi iconography. There was also a giant inflatable pig that floated above the audience, and those famous, giant puppets.

“The bleeding hearts and the artists make their stand,” Waters sings – he most certainly did. The man was on fine form. Here are a few more photos from the night taken on my iPhone.

13May

The Book of Transformations – Playlist

If you’re not aware, I’m in the habit of making playlists for the books – soundtracks to go along with them, or tracks that I listened to a lot when writing. Here are the ones for Nights of Villjamur and City of Ruin, if you’re at all interested. The Book of Transformations ended up with a kind of 80s-classics thing going on, a little irony perhaps (I think that was because of the superhero vibe running through the book). It turned out to be pretty broad selection. Mock me if you must.

Anyway, song & artist:

When It’s Good – Ben Harper
Days of Fire (feat. Natty) – Nitin Sawhney
Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly – Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly
Undisclosed Desires – Muse
Gatekeeper – Feist
Faithful Guide – Wintersleep
If You’d Seen a Battlefield -Youthmovies
Houstatlantavegas – Drake
When You Were Young – The Killers
From Grace – Thomas Dybdahl
Careless Whisper- George Michael
A View To A Kill – Duran Duran
Every Breath You Take – The Police
She Don’t Know (feat. Ludacris) – Usher
True – Spandau Ballet
London Girl – The Invisible
Fools – The Temper Trap
Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence – Ryuichi Sakamoto
Fireflies – Owl City
Purple Rain – Prince & The Revolution
Counterpoint – Delphic
Smooth Criminal – Michael Jackson
Tracy (Kid Loco’s Playing With The Young Team Remix) – Mogwai
Sometimes –  My Bloody Valentine
Make Tonight – Emanuel
Some Unholy War – Amy Winehouse
Sigh No More – Mumford & Sons
Feast of the Heart – Jesca Hoop
In the House – In a Heartbeat – John Murphy
Black Sands – Bonobo
The Boys of Summer – Don Henley
Lady Labyrinth – Ludovico Einaudi
Bleed for Me – Saliva
Ooh La La – The Faces
You’re Missing – Bruce Springsteen
Broken – Lifehouse
Sympathy – The Goo Goo Dolls
Sunday Bloody Sunday – U2
Deep Inside of You – Third Eye Blind
Daughters Of The Soho Riots -The National
Slow Burn Treason – Holly Miranda
Dust – Hidden Orchestra
Excuses – The Morning Benders
Radio Daze – The Roots, Blu, Porn & Dice Raw
Love the Way You Lie – Eminem & Rihanna
I’m Not Okay (I Promise) – My Chemical Romance
This Is War – 30 Seconds To Mars
My Cabal – School of Seven Bells
I’ll Be Missing You – Puff Daddy & Faith Evans (Featuring 112)
Stardust (with Naturally 7) – Michael Buble

17Apr

Seth Lakeman – Race To Be King

What you need, on a nice warm evening like this, is some folk music from the Minack Theatre in Cornwall (saw a delightful Dumas play there a few years back – moon high up above the sea; seals in the bay; Cornish pasties and champagne; lovely place). Seth Lakeman is rather good live, too. Enjoy the jig.

12Apr

The Best Soundtracks For Writing (Reprise)

Several months ago I made a list of the best soundtracks that I liked to listen to while writing.

Listening to music helps the process of writing, but sometimes it’s better not to have anything featuring lyrics. Words being hollered in my ears interferes with my creative juices. I do not want to hear Lady Gaga warbling her kitsch electropop when I’m getting to a crucial scene. Likewise I do not need Tom Waits’s whisky-soaked grumbling when I’m striving to write something epic. Thus the humble soundtrack is often required.

The more I thought about this (and the more soundtracks I bought), I realised how important film scores were to the act of creation, and that many of them were suitable for various different scenes. So, since the last post, I’ve found some more very fine soundtracks and I thought I’d list them – because I’m a nice chap really. It’s worth having a listen on iTunes to get the full impression of what they’re about. Don’t forget to share your own suggestions if you have any.

The Eagle. I’ve not seen the film yet – though immediately bought the soundtrack when it appeared on iTunes recently. The music is wonderfully atmospheric and with a whole host of subtle world music influences, as well as that evocative, Celts versus Romans vibe – what’s not to like? It’s just the kind of thing you need when you’re plotting out your empires, setting up a huge battle, or politicking.

Being Human. This isn’t a bad TV series at all (do you US readers have this over there?) but I’ve not managed to watch much past the first season. However, the soundtrack has some great moments – very dark, nicely varied, reasonably intricate, and very non-invasive. Perfect for dark scenes in corridors, late-night shenanigans and moving your characters through the cityscape.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. I haven’t played the game (I don’t dare buy a console for fear of missing deadlines), but this is yet another fine soundtrack by the hugely talented and prolific Hans Zimmer. There are some fine Middle Eastern influences (as you’d expect from a composer like Zimmer) and strong beats for what is a great game soundtrack. It’s absolutely perfect for carving up a city or for sending your beloved characters into battle.

The Ring / The Ring Two. Another Zimmer-inspired soundtrack, it only seemed to become available well after the films (and is, on iTunes, available as two-in-one). This is wonderfully creepy, intricate and delivers some delightful Tim Burton-esque images in my mind. It’s also quite an inward-looking soundtrack, the kind of thing that almost hints at insanity for your characters. Recommended to horror writers for all those nasty little moments. You know the ones I mean.

The Sanctum. I understand this film wasn’t all that good, but David Hirschfelder’s score is very evocative. There’s a mix of African influences here, and some effects that make it seem rather otherworldly, and this is generally great music to evoke far-off lands. Suitable for worldbuilding or general quest tomfoolery, not to mention some underwater action.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. An old film, but a wonderful one; and it’s really worth revisiting the soundtrack. I never recalled quite how beautifully orchestrated and detailed it is. It possesses a wonderful range of emotions and styles; it’s deeply evocative stuff, ideal for any quieter pieces you have to write: conversations, intimacy between characters, or even contemplating strange yet pleasing landscapes.

22Mar

Liam Bailey – It’s Not The Same

It was busy stats-wise on the blog yesterday, and there are probably some new folk still hanging around. I always feel under a little pressure to follow busy periods with something profound, so here you go:

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUN7YzV86yk 505]