Tag Archives | music

My Muses, aka I love Kristin

I don’t remember my first kiss. I don’t remember my first drink or first cigarette (though I do remember my first Marlboro. I nearly fell over, and had to pretend I was deliberately leaning against a wall, all nonchalant like a cat pretending not to have done anything it didn’t intend to). But I do remember my first gig, my first nightclub, and the first time I heard Throwing Muses.

 

Mark & Lard’s Graveyard Shift radio show in the ’90s was responsible for the majority of my taste in music; two hours of mind-expanding excellence, four nights a week, during my most impressionable years. Like a cool older boyfriend, but without the seediness or leather-jacketed heartbreak, they took me by the hand and turned me on to Nick Cave, Belle & Sebastian, The Flaming Lips, Stereolab, Tindersticks. But they could have played crap non-stop and I’d forgive them it, so long as they still played Dizzy that one night, the night I turned the radio on and heard Throwing Muses for the first time.

Poppy and fun, Dizzy is very different from the darker tracks that became my favourites. I guess it was my gateway drug to their close-to-the-bone, raw-edged other songs. The view into darkness that I got from their music was important, because when the black dog came to rip at my own throat few years later, I recognised it. I’d seen it in books, heard it in songs. I knew that some of my heroes had been pushed to the edge and made it back. I knew that they had experienced the walls closing in and the ground falling away, the same way it was happening to me.

It wasn’t anything as conscious as that at the time, and I don’t mean that the music I listened to glamourised mental illness or that my experience was as intense as Hersh’s bipolar disorder. That’s not how it works – it’s not a game of Snap! where only people who’ve had the same experiences can understand or help each other. I listened to stark, lost music not to wallow in how I was feeling, but because it comforted me to know that other people had felt that way and managed to return to centre in the end.

Hunkpapa, along with PJ Harvey’s Dry and, later, Bjork’s Homogenic, became my first aid kit, applied whenever I get fragile and frayed.Even before I had my own frame of reference, there’s something visceral about those albums, an honesty that makes them compulsive.

Muses songs are also damn good fun and sound fantastic played as loud as possible – don’t let my reference to depression give you the wrong idea. Screeching along to ‘Mania’ is one of the most invigorating ways to spend 3 minutes 2 seconds, and I challenge anyone to get 2 minutes into ‘Rabbits Dying’ without bouncing around. Watch this video for ‘Not Too Soon’ and witness perfect pop.

Tuesday night was another first – the first time I got to see the band play live. I’ve seen Kristin play solo lots of times, and seen her play a whole set of Muses songs, but the sound with the whole band was always going to be different. The gig was breathtaking, even better than I expected it to be. I don’t think I blinked once, especially not in the last part of the show when the pace of their early material was especially intense. I’m not a music writer and I’m sure people who are will describe the set better than I can – I’ll put links here when I come across ‘proper’ reviews.
If you’re a fan and you want to know what it was like, just imagine them playing a selection of their finest songs (the tracklisting of their Anthology would be a good place to start if you lack imagination) for two hours in front of a rapt, reverential audience. ‘Pearl’ and ‘Furious’ from Red Heaven were highlights for me (cos that album will forever remind me of being 17. Plus, Bob Mould. Nuff said). Otherwise, ‘Soul Soldier’ and ‘White Bikini Sand’ were (and could only ever be) gorgeous ways to start and end the set. If you’re not yet a fan, buy that same Anthology cd and get started, eh? There’s a wealth of genius to catch up on.
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more music to write words by

Here’s another wordless playlist. I’m chuffed by how many people liked the first one, and I hope you like this one too. I use it to write to, but you can listen to it whenever you like. I’m nice like that. It’s about 45 minutes long, tracklisting below. As usual, if you can’t see the player it’s probably cos you’re reading this on an Apple gizmo which doesn’t like Flash – you can click here to listen on the 8tracks site instead.

I’m feeling kinda wordless myself today – ooh, sudden Heathers flashback  –

Christian Slater feeling kinda superior in Heathers

"I'm feeling kinda superior tonight". If you don't get the reference you need to watch Heathers more. In fact, even if you do you probably still need to watch Heathers more. Make it so.

Um, distracted by psycho-Slater handsomeness, where was I – oh yes. I have no words left. Used ’em all up. I spent the weekend prettying up the beginning of my novel for a deadline this Thursday, and it’s sucked out all my nouns and adjectives and doing words ’til all I have left is ‘yes’ and ‘no’ and ‘gin, please’. I love how it’s reading now, though – I have a beginning I’m proud of, now I just have to gussy up the rest of the ‘script to match. It’s such a rush to read things back and be pleased with them – even/especially the stuff I thought would be rubbish. Dear Future Me, please remember that and keep going even when you’re sure it sucks.

Right, must go rewatch Heathers 😉

Tracklisting

You Give Me Problems About My Business – The Mercury Program

Auto Rock – Mogwai

E-Musik – Neu!

Memphis Emphasis – Tristeza

Blue Turning Gray – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!

Memorial – Explosions in the Sky

Within Dreams – The Album Leaf

Year of The Dragon – Sufjan Stevens

 

 

 

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Yonder: Hunter S Thompson, a Giant Rabbit and Antler Barrettes.

No theme for this week’s links, apart from no-theme. And coolness. I’ve also included a new playlist for you, not styled as anything to do with writing this time, just the ear-worms of my summer. But let’s get to that in a minute. Firstly – breakfast!

self portrait by Hunter S Thompson

self portrait by Hunter S Thompson

Sarah Wilson found a great article about Hunter S Thompson’s rigorous, riotous breakfast requirements. I’ve always loved his writing, but never much fancied living with the guy, what with the whole ranch-in-the-middle-of-nowhere-filled-with-guns-dynamite-and-crazy-people asethetic he had going on. But this is the kind of breakfast I’d be willing to make a lifestyle change for.

‘. . . The food factor should always be massive: four Bloody Marys, two grapefruits, a pot of coffee, Rangoon crêpes, a half-pound of either sausage, bacon, or corned-beef hash with diced chilies, a Spanish omelette or eggs Benedict, a quart of milk, a chopped lemon for random seasoning, and something like a slice of key lime pie, two margaritas and six lines of the best cocaine for dessert. . .’

Read the full description here. Then come back to read about Monster Hair Clips. I know you want to.

ram horns hair clip

Monster hair clips. Werewolf snouts. Tentacle belts. Visit Miss Monster’s store of Fantasy accessories and get your very own antlers. I have a big crush on this shop and I’m hoping to wear some of these to work and see who notices.

Fed and dressed? You’ll be ready for a photo of an enormous rabbit then.

Big Yellow Rabbit by Florentijn Hofman

Big Yellow Rabbit by Florentijn Hofman

Crafty Crafty blogged about this Big Yellow Rabbit, a sculpture by Florentijn Hofman which you can see if you are in Örebro, Sweden next week. Or now. I would love to walk around the corner and see something like this. I know my boyfriend thinks this is how I see the world all the time (He’s the prosaic one. I’m the trippy daydreamer).

Finally, here’s my latest 8tracks playlist. No writing theme this time, other than the fact that I write and I also like this. This summer my brain has looped these songs over and over, so for my own sake I’ve put them all in one place where I can get to them easily. You’ll see that my New Wave fetish continues unabated. The track by Television is over 10 minutes long, and totally worth it.
As always, if you only see a blank spot below, you’re using a browser which doesn’t like Flash. Click here for the music instead. Tracklisting below.

8tracks licensing requires that the second time you listen to a playlist it plays in random order. But all other times you should hear the songs in this order –
1 No Fun, The Stooges
2 Marquee Moon, Television
3 Thank You For Sending Me An Angel, Talking Heads
4 Kimberly, Patti Smith
5 Gravity Rides Everything, Modest Mouse
6 Gone Daddy Gone, Violent Femmes
7 Cattle and Cane, The Go-Betweens
8 This Time Tomorrow, The Kinks

Happy Weekend. X

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Music to Write Girls By

photo © luca

Much typing here at writingislovely towers as I try to get this nth draft finished, in order to begin on the next and meet my deadline. Each draft adds more words, more detail, another layer of paint. Plenty gets cut, too, but please let’s not dwell on wordcount today.

This week I’ve been working on my heroines. Making them strong on the page, making them 3D – even though two of them are, at least in this telling, villainesses. Well, they need detail too, don’t they? Why would all the other characters cower and scatter at their approach, unless they have real substance? These ladies think they’re in the right, they think a Happy Ending is the one where they win and everything and everyone that was once in their way lies blackened and ruined. So, I’ve been spending time with them, imagining them centre stage, figuring out new nastiness for the violent one, new vanities for the cruel one.

And my ‘good’ heroine? Gah, she kept crying through one of the first, skeletal drafts. She didn’t like the forest, or being far from home, and she was worried she would lose and everyone would laugh at her. Okay, I see her point – but the heroines I like to read about, and the ones I want to write, have more courage than that. Of course they don’t like the scary forests, who would – the clue’s in the name, scary – but they figure out winning ways to get through it, tossing about quips and feats of cunning while they are at it. Hmmph. It is not as easy (of course) to write a character who is heroic, yet real, as it is to read one. Someone relatable yet still fantastic enough to warrant a tale. I’m getting there, but it will take a few more drafts ’til I am satisfied.

So. Here are some songs to write heroines by – whichever side they are on, good or evil. I didn’t want anti-man songs, or love songs if I could avoid it – the songs should be about how ace they are, not how rubbish boys are. These are songs that give me a swagger, so I hope that’ll be the case for your characters, as well.

As usual, if you don’t see a player please follow this link to 8tracks.com

(8tracks can only play songs in the same order twice, something to do with copyright & licensing. Here’s the tracklisting for the first couple of listens:

Wang Dang Doodle – PJ Harvey
Not Too Soon – Throwing Muses
The Littlest Birds – The Be Good Tanyas
Gone Again – Patti Smith
Walking Back to Happiness – Helen Shapiro
Rock ‘N Roll – Elastica
Monster Hospital – Metric
Feed The Tree – Belly)

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