Short Story in a Song — “Violins”

 

This is a new blog series. The point is to post some of my favorite songs and briefly look at the lyrics through the lens of short fiction.

Lagwagon has been a hugely influential band on the West Coast punk scene for almost three decades. “Violins” is probably one of the best known songs from their 1995 Fat Wreck Chords album Hoss. The album version is a high-energy onslaught, but there’s a plaintive quality to Joey Cape’s vocals that highlight the complicated feelings he’s singing about. The strength of those lyrics was further underscored in the beachy version of “Violins” that Cape recorded with Tony Sly for the Acoustic album in 2004.

“Violins” starts off with the narrator proclaiming himself “another fool” as he spins an angry tale of heartbreak and infatuation. He and his ex are worlds apart, but he can’t stop thinking about her even as he gets drunk and sleeps around. Through it all, he calls out to the object of his obsession and tries to win her back while falling into the same old self-destructive patterns. It’s a painfully familiar tale that should ring true for anybody who’s ever fallen in love—as The Buzzcocks once snarled—with somebody they shouldn’t have fallen in love with.

Read the full lyrics for Lagwagon’s “Violins” right HERE.

Check out my podcast conversation with Joey Cape about rock and reading:

More “Short Story in a Song” posts:

S.W. Lauden is the author of the Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series includes BAD CITIZEN CORPORATIONGRIZZLY SEASON and HANG TIME (Rare Bird Books). He is also the co-host of the Writer Types podcast. Steve lives in LA.

Short Story in a Song — “Throwaways”

This is the start of a new blog series. The point is to post some of my favorite songs and briefly look at the lyrics through the lens of short fiction.

Listening to music as you get older can be tricky because pure enjoyment sometimes gets clouded by needless comparison. Or at least it does for me. So when I first heard the Philadelphia punk band Beach Slang a few years ago, I couldn’t listen without thinking about The Replacements, Sugar and Jawbreaker. Thankfully, good music doesn’t care about our stupid comparisons. It can wait us out. These days, Beach Slang isn’t a collection of references to me any more—they’re just a great band that I like listening to.

One of my favorite songs from their album The Things We Do to Find People Who Feel Like Us is the opening track, “Throwaways.” It’s a familiar tale of hometown hopelessness that feels universal and ageless. The protagonist reminds us that a full tank of gas, pocket change and a good book can seem like salvation when you’re brimming with ideas and out of options. He’s no revolutionary, but tonight he’s fed up enough to lead a few of his friends to a place that’s only better because it isn’t here. I don’t know about you, but every time I hear this angsty anthem I want to climb in the passenger seat of that car just to see what happens. Great song, great short story.

Read the full lyrics for Beach Slang’s “Throwaways” right HERE.

Like punk rock and books? Check out Books on the Bus, a podcast mini-series about the books musicians like to read. Here’s my conversation with Jim Lindberg from Pennywise:

And here’s Joey Cape from Lagwagon:

S.W. Lauden is the author of the Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series includes BAD CITIZEN CORPORATIONGRIZZLY SEASON and HANG TIME (Rare Bird Books). He is also the co-host of the Writer Types podcast. Steve lives in LA.

Interrogation—Nick Kolakowski

Who: Nick Kolakowski

What: Author of A BRUTAL BUNCH OF HEARTBROKEN SAPS and SLAUGHTERHOUSE BLUES, the first two books in the Love & Bullets trilogy. His short stories have appeared in Thuglit, Shotgun Honey, Mystery Tribune, Crime Syndicate Magazine, and various anthologies.

Where: New York

Interview conducted by email. Some questions and answers have been edited.

Congrats on the release of SLAUGHTERHOUSE BLUES. This latest installment takes Bill and Fiona to Cuba and Nicaragua. Why choose those locations?

Around 10 years ago, I had an editor gig that took me through the Caribbean and Central America. I wrote a number of nonfiction articles about Cuba and Nicaragua but always wanted to use them as fictional settings. When it came time to send Bill and Fiona out of the United States, I finally saw my chance. It was great to rip out huge, dripping hunks of personal experience and use them in a novel; not because doing so made it easier to write (it’s always a marathon sprint), but because I could add a deep layer of authenticity to the whole endeavor.

Plus, Bill and Fiona are fugitives, and I’ve always joked that if I had to hide out somewhere in the world, I’d choose either Cuba or Nicaragua. The former, because there’s no extradition with the U.S., and some great bars; if you could keep a low profile, and not irritate the local government, it’d be hard for anyone to find you holed up with your daiquiri. And the latter, because the highlands around Esteli (a small mountain town where Fiona ends up) are very beautiful and relatively remote; depending on your setup, you have a good chance of seeing your pursuer before they see you. Then again, the people pursuing Bill and Fiona are very tough, very smart, and very serious.

Continue reading

“Books on the Bus”—Complete Podcast Mini-Series

Rock and reading have long been two of my biggest obsessions, but I’ve discovered a third in the last few years—podcasts. A combination of all those influences led me to create Books on the Bus, a five-part podcast mini-series about the intersection of rock and reading.

Each episode features a musician sharing about their favorite books and authors, how books inspire their lyrics, the best rock biographies, and what they like to read on the road. I originally posted them over the course of a week in January, but have collected all five episodes here. Enjoy.


S.W. Lauden is the Anthony Award-nominated author of the Tommy & Shayna novellas, CROSSWISE and CROSSED BONES (Down & Out Books). His Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series includes BAD CITIZEN CORPORATIONGRIZZLY SEASON and HANG TIME (Rare Bird Books). He is also the co-host of the Writer Types podcast. Steve lives in LA.

“Books on the Bus” Podcast—Episode 5

 

For the fifth and final episode of the Books on the Bus podcast mini-series, I connected with Jim Lindberg, lead singer of Southern California punk band Pennywise. I’m thrilled to connect with Jim because Pennywise is among a handful of legendary South Bay bands—along with Black Flag, Descendents and Circle Jerks—that fueled my Greg Salem punk rock P.I. novels including BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, GRIZZLY SEASON and HANG TIME.

In addition to writing the autobiography PUNK ROCK DAD, Jim writes most of the lyrics for Pennywise, with self-reliance as a running theme throughout their catalog. He also has a degree in English and counts Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau among his influences, citing them as America’s “first punk rockers.” We also discuss DARK MONEY by Jane Mayer, FLOW by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and ON THE ROAD by Jack Kerouac, among many others.

Here’s “Books on the Bus,” episode 5:

Find out more Jim Lindberg’s passion for music and reading HERE. Find out more about Pennywise HERE.

Here are the four previous episodes of Books on the Bus:

S.W. Lauden is the Anthony Award-nominated author of the Tommy & Shayna novellas, CROSSWISE and CROSSED BONES (Down & Out Books). His Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series includes BAD CITIZEN CORPORATIONGRIZZLY SEASON and HANG TIME (Rare Bird Books). He is also the co-host of the Writer Types podcast. Steve lives in LA.

“Books on the Bus” Podcast—Episode 4

For the fourth episode of this podcast mini-series about the intersection of rock and reading, we’re hitting the road with Marko DeSantis.

He’s probably best known as the lead guitarist for Sugarcult, but Marko has also played with Bad Astronaut, The Ataris and Nerf Herder. These days your likely to catch him DJing at a club in LA or Tokyo, or find him lecturing about the entertainment industry at a handful of Los Angeles music colleges.

This episode features discussions about everything from PLEASE KILL ME and HAMMER OF THE GODS, to THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA by Ernest Hemingway, FOREVER by Judy Blume and OH, THE PLACES YOU’LL GO by Dr. Seuss. Buckle your seat belts because we cover a lot of highway with this one.

Here is Books on the Bus, episode 4:

Follow Marko on Twitter HERE. And on Instagram HERE.

I launched the Books on the Bus podcast mini-series on Monday with Jeff Whalen of Tsar, followed by Joey Cape of Lagwagon on Tuesday, and Todd Pasternack of Ominous Seapods, Marlow and Bump on Wednesday. I’m posting a new episode every day this week (January 29 to February 2) over on Rare Bird Radio. Our final guest on Friday is Jim Lindberg from Pennywise.

S.W. Lauden is the Anthony Award-nominated author of the Tommy & Shayna novellas, CROSSWISE and CROSSED BONES (Down & Out Books). His Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series includes BAD CITIZEN CORPORATIONGRIZZLY SEASON and HANG TIME (Rare Bird Books). He is also the co-host of the Writer Types podcast. Steve lives in LA.

New “Hang Time” Review

“This is an intense story and the action is non-stop. It was a quick, fun, easy read. I recommend it to both music fans and those who just like a good mystery.” Read the full review HERE.

S.W. Lauden is the Anthony Award-nominated author of the Tommy & Shayna novellas, CROSSWISE and CROSSED BONES (Down & Out Books). His Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series includes BAD CITIZEN CORPORATIONGRIZZLY SEASON and HANG TIME (Rare Bird Books). He is also the co-host of the Writer Types podcast. Steve lives in Los Angeles.

“Books on the Bus” Podcast—Episode 3

For episode 3, Books on the Bus is shifting gears from punk rock to jam band.

Our guest today is Todd Pasternack of the bands Ominous Seapods, Marlow and Bump. He is also the author of LESSONS FROM THE ROAD: MUSICIANS AS BUSINESS LEADERS.

This episode features rock autobiographies by Bruce Springsteen and Levon Helm, in addition to deep discussions about Howard Zinn in the tour van. Todd’s a smart guy and talented musician who has written a really interesting book.

Here is Books on the Bus, episode 3:

Find out more about Todd Pasternack HERE.

I launched the Books on the Bus podcast mini-series on Monday with Jeff Whalen of Tsar, followed by Joey Cape of Lagwagon on Tuesday. I’ll be posting a new episode every day this week (January 29 to February 2) over on Rare Bird Radio. Thursday’s guest is Marko DeSantis from Sugarcult.

S.W. Lauden is the Anthony Award-nominated author of the Tommy & Shayna novellas, CROSSWISE and CROSSED BONES (Down & Out Books). His Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series includes BAD CITIZEN CORPORATIONGRIZZLY SEASON and HANG TIME (Rare Bird Books). He is also the co-host of the Writer Types podcast. Steve lives in Los Angeles.

“Books on the Bus” Podcast—Episode 2

Is Books on the Bus a rock podcast about literature, or a literary podcast about rock? You decide!

Today I’m chatting with Joey Cape, lead singer of the California punk band Lagwagon. He also plays guitar for Me First & The Gimme Gimmes and is a prolific solo artist and producer.

This episode features the origin stories for the Lagwagon songs “Owen Meany” and “Lullaby,” in addition to creative ways to promote reading live on stage, giving up on non-fiction 3/4 of the way through a book, and Cormac McCarthy—among many other topics.

Here’s Books on the Bus, episode 2:

Find out more about Joey Cape HERE. Find out more about Lagwagon HERE.

I launched the first episode of the Books on the Bus podcast mini-series yesterday with Jeff Whalen of the rock group Tsar (click here if you missed it). I’ll be posting a new episode every day this week (January 29 to February 2) over on the Rare Bird Radio podcast platform. Wednesday’s guest is Todd Pasternack of Ominous Seapods, Marlow and Bump, and author of LESSONS FROM THE ROAD: MUSICIANS AS BUSINESS LEADERS.

S.W. Lauden is the Anthony Award-nominated author of the Tommy & Shayna novellas, CROSSWISE and CROSSED BONES (Down & Out Books). His Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series includes BAD CITIZEN CORPORATIONGRIZZLY SEASON and HANG TIME (Rare Bird Books). He is also the co-host of the Writer Types podcast. Steve lives in Los Angeles.

“Books on the Bus” Podcast—Episode 1

I’m thrilled to share the first episode of the Books on the Bus podcast. I’m kicking things off with Jeff Whalen, lead singer of the Los Angeles rock group Tsar, and soon to be a solo artist with the release of “10 More Rock Super Hits.”

Jeff’s a rocker by night and librarian by day, so I couldn’t think of a better way to launch this five-part podcast mini-series about rock and reading.

Here’s Books on the Bus, episode 1:

Click here to find out more about Jeff Whalen.

Here’s the Tsar song “Calling All Destroyers” from the soundtrack to the James Gunn film, Super.

I’ll be posting a new episode every day this week (January 29 to February 2) over on the Rare Bird Radio podcast platform. Tomorrow’s guest is Joey Cape of Lagwagon and Me First & The Gimme Gimmes.

S.W. Lauden is the Anthony Award-nominated author of the Tommy & Shayna novellas, CROSSWISE and CROSSED BONES (Down & Out Books). His Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series includes BAD CITIZEN CORPORATIONGRIZZLY SEASON and HANG TIME (Rare Bird Books). He is also the co-host of the Writer Types podcast. Steve lives in Los Angeles.