Writing Reality: Novel Soundtrack, “End of the Line”

21/06/2013 at 23:31 (Reviews, Writing, Writing Reality articles) (, , , , , , , , , )


I listen to music while writing; mainly instrumental, for less lyrical distraction, though a few softer vocalists make their way in too. Below is a selection I pulled together, of favoured artists and bands, for a would-be novel soundtrack. Sadly, Godspeed You! Black Emperor – with tracks generally running to a quarter-hour apiece – had to be consigned to the B-side of the vinyl issue, in the style of Pink Floyd’s ‘Echoes.’

1) The Levellers ‘Too Real’: Two mismatched teenagers, unlikely friends in a town of slow decay.

2) The Civil Wars,’20 Years’: The secret diary of a missing girl

3) Soley, ‘I Drown’: For the whimsy and idiocy of falling in love with a friend

4) The Levellers, ‘100 Years of Solitude’: For the Deathwalk race over the blustery Greenfell viaduct, towards the quarry – with gangs at your heels

5) I am Kloot, “Same Deep water as Me”: When the blues drag you both down, and neither can let go

6) Mogwai, ‘Too Raging to Cheers’: For the brassy evening light, hanging high in the trees, and the pollen-thick air; for wandering the old line

7) The Smiths, ‘I know it’s Over’: For that first, last dance. “Isn’t this a bit ominous?”

8) Soley, ‘Kill the Clown’: When the mask is pulled on, the man disappears into his past

9) The Levellers, ‘Red Sun Burns’: The blue moon rises, and the walls talk

10) Miriam Stockley, ‘Another Perfect Day’: The wind changes, lives move on – but there are no happy endings, because nothing ever ends

11) Blonde Redhead, ’23’: Played over end credits, scrolled over rhododendrons’ green-gold haze

Vinyl B-side: Godspeed You! Black Emperor, “Dead Flag Blues” – for walking the length of the line under a bone white moon, towards the quarry.

That’s the gist of my first novel, “End of the Line” – old-gold light and blue-black shadows; racing through twisted undergrowth; an abandoned quarry and its disused rail line; hooky bus trips; slightly mental teachers; teen gang warfare, and a missing girl’s diary. All filtered through the 1st POV of a lad with too much going on upstairs for his own good. More fact, less context.

Letting go of the rail, clinging to the backs of each chair, she wobbles up the aisle. Litter clinks and rattles a colourful stream around her boots. “Nope. You’re a fellow outsider.”
I laugh. “Oh yeah. Because your drive-by knowledge of everything and everyone in this town, qualifies you an outsider.” Grunting, I plunk back down. “I think I’ll head in the back door, after all. Take my chances with the Mafia.”
She stares at me, all humour washed out of her eyes. “No, I wouldn’t say that’s a good idea. You’re an outsider because you’re new here. They’ll know it. Come in the front way.”
I smirk. “If I was being gross…”
The wishbone jaw tightens. She hefts the bag back up her shoulder. “Suit yourself,” she says shortly. “See you around.”
“Not likely,” I tell her. “You don’t seem like the kind of person someone like me would be seen with.”

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Levelling my Land

13/07/2012 at 22:31 (Reviews) ()


This band has been the backbone where my own crumbled. When my mind went too blank and bland with adulthood, they’ve let me recall what I stand for, stood for, before the world crept up to reclaim from me what it thought was due.

Listening to the Levellers, I see again the barefoot kid who never brushed her hair (until Mum threatened to have it all sheared off), longed for pure gypsy blood, wore skirts to sweep the dirt and wandered long hours alone – never lonely – under dripping trees and over sunbaked clay. I smell the hot tarmac, feel how it burnt my toes. No spots, not a scrap of makeup. Only writing and travel on my mind, apart from the usual short-term fluff of staying out past sunset and reaching the top of a treasured tree.

There were also peripheral visions of the long-haired wild man I’d one day find in the middle of Nowhere, who’d catch my heart like no one else, make me trust and maybe marry him, if he could keep up with me and I him. But I was still too young a sprog for that kind of thing yet. Still, he’d carry a guitar, and know what peace there is in a still silence between comfortable friends. And he’d definately climb trees.

Well, my first real love was Swampy, after all 😉 I was about twelve, entering the early bloom of my hippychick years. Which bordered nicely with my puberty – I held that off as long as possible, believe me. Mum despaired of ever introducing me to deodorant, or daily washes.

Still, there were the Levellers. Finally, a band singing, playing about things I believed in. They weren’t talking about clubs and bling, sweaty gym-bods. Their voices rang with a riot’s call, minus the pointless bloodbath; they were too busy drinking from the bottle to throw it. They had the idle, gratuitous politician’s nailed to the wall, spliced to pour out truth; they knew the tricks of the world, made sure everyone heard them too. They called out for justice done on the natural world’s pains at human hands, an issue very dear to my gnarly heart.

And best of all, they spoke of travel – the endless road that hardens and brightens the eye and soul, scuffs the feet and bruises the knees everytime you fall. But God it’s worth the fall. Especially with these guys to pull you back up for another round of drinks and a song.

I’m lightly mulled on the river of rum, blissed out in candlelight and closer to home than I’ve felt in a long while. Home being where the heart is, mine went wandering ages ago, reckless fiend that it is; sometimes though, I manage to call it back.

Walking on.

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