Monday, May 3, 2010

Lullabys, Legends & Lies

I’m a big fan of cross-overs—something-slash-something else (I guess probably with the exception of model/actress—bleh--) and favorites from different genres collaborating.

I even have a whole diatribe about Grace Kelly. Some clueless kid in college once said to me, “I don’t get why everyone was so obsessed with Grace Kelly. I don’t get what the big deal is…” At which time I cut him off, “DON’T SEE WHAT THE BIG DEAL IS?!? She is the only person...ever... to achieve the conjoining of the two most sacred things a young girl can dream about—she was a movie star AND a princess! (!!!) A movie star AND!  a princess… ??”

I digress.

My point is, taking something amazing in its own right and adding another artistic element to it whips me into a giddy frenzy. My writing partner did a musical composition in college based on Keats’ La Belle Dame Sans Merci… and you can bet that it’s right up my alley.

Shel Silverstein, in addition to being a spooky-cool mysterious poet (whom I fawned over as a child), was also a song-writer (just to name a few of the things he was). He actually wrote the Johnny Cash hit, “Boy Named Sue" which I had forgotten about until today when my Cash greatest hits vinyl arrived at my office. Then, serendipitously, John Lundberg, via the Huffington Post discussed a new album from Sugar Hill Records featuring Shel Silverstein covers.

Twistable, Turnable Man” features some of my favorites, like Lucinda Williams, Nanci Griffith and (sigh) Kris Kristofferson (also wrote for Johnny Cash), as well as a some other folks I’m not hip or indie enough to be well versed in.  

Just listening to a few clips, I remember reading Shel Silverstein late at night when I couldn’t sleep-- feeling  ghosty and haunted.  The feeling that, not only was my house haunted at night, but that I might even be the ghost.

It’s almost like Shel’s stories were the beginnings of an idea which I’m still working on, writing about, and writing through—my idea of urban magical realism (perhaps one day I’ll elaborate or post my college thesis about it here). Or suburban magical realism. At the very least, small, cold coastal town magical realism. A spooky amplification of ordinary life.

Finally, I’d like to say thank you to Shel Silverstein, who, as I’m re-reading some of his stuff now, I feel fairly confident is how I derived my sense of rhythm. I suppose Steven would be the best authority on how I tend to pace lyrics, but even just looking at this little snippet, I think: “Oooh, that’s the kind of thing that just makes me melt.”

And I can say that there are no moments in which I feel more satisfied with myself than when I put all the pieces I want into some lyrics, and they become something whole. Something that makes me think, “Oooh,” like I didn’t even write it.

"Lullabys, Legends and Lies"
Gather round fellows I'll tell you some tales about murder and blueberry pies
And heroes and hells and bottomless wells and lullabys legends and lies
And gather round ladies come sit at my feet I'll sing about warm sunny skies
There's mermaids and beans and lovin' machines in my lullabys legends and lies

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